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Gameweek 9 Sleepers XI: Fantrax EPL

We look to the waiver wire and free agent pool each week to highlight some under-the-radar players who could be a short-term or even long-term solution for your Fantrax EPL fantasy teams. Our Sleepers XI provides fantasy managers with a full squad of differential picks, and some high upside options to plug in if they are in the starting lineup. Don't sleep on these underappreciated gems as you put together your roster for Gameweek 9!

A view of the City Ground in Nottingham, UK

We'll be focusing on players that will bring us not only attacking returns or clean sheets, but also those players that score Ghost Points in the sophisticated and statistics based Fantrax Scoring System!

Fantasy EPL Gameweek 9 Sleepers XI

For this article, we use the % rostered from Fantrax. Our only rule is that each player we highlight is required to be rostered in 60% of leagues or less at the time of writing. Therefore there's a good chance some of these players will be free agents in your Fantrax Draft League! As always, we'll take form, fixtures, projected points, and a healthy dose of intuition into account to make our selections. Additionally, I've included the rostership percentage from the "Big 3" -- the twenty 12-team divisions that comprise the ultra-competitive DraftPL Community League and International Genie League, as well as the eight equally competitive 10-team divisions in the Discord Super League -- to provide some additional context for who is likely to be available and where you might want to follow the wisdom of the crowd.

When I tipped Jordan Pickford (17.5) to score in double-digits for the first time this season in my Gameweek 8 selections, I didn't think that would come at the expense of literally everyone else in the squad. Must be some sort of voodoo, deal with the devil type arrangement. It won't happen again. Suffice it to say the overall score for the week was a disappointment at 54 points. That brings the season total to 505.5 points and drops the weekly average down slightly to roughly 63 points. One of the biggest challenges this season has been identifying which of these lower-rostered players will start. An international break certainly doesn't do me any favors with the selections this week, with travel, late returns and questionable fitness factoring into managers' selections. That said, I've made my best effort to pull together an eleven that I feel reasonably confident will all start. I'll call out any relative question marks in the analysis.

The Sleepers XI table below includes a full team of Starters, as well as 5 Reserves -- high-upside players with some question marks around whether or not they'll start in Gameweek 9. Keep an eye out when lineups drop and pick them up if you see them starting and need to fill a spot on your roster. Read on below for the rationale behind each of the Starter selections.

Matt Turner (G, Nottingham Forest v. Luton)

I was a bit worried that Turner was set to lose his spot to fellow summer transfer Odysseas Vlachodimos (I even included the Greek keeper as a Reserve last GW), but the American #1 seems to have performed well enough to keep himself as first choice for Steve Cooper's side for now. I'm going in a bit hard against Luton this week as one of the teams to target with streamers (alongside Bournemouth, Burnley and Sheffield United, whose opponents are also well represented here this week), which may seem to fly in the face of my previous advice around streaming keepers. However, while I still believe Forest will get the better of the Hatters, I think Luton will provide a strong challenge and test the defense and keeper with their crosses in to Carlton Morris. I expect Turner to have at least a couple saves to make on the day. The clean sheet, as ever, would be a bonus.

Matt Doherty (D, Wolves @ Bournemouth)

You may have missed the news considering it's been significantly under-reported (to the point that neither Fantrax nor the official Premier League website have made an update), but Nelson Semedo is suspended for this weekend due to accumulating 5 yellow cards. The Portuguese fullback was cautioned after the final whistle following Wolves' GW7 victory over Man City for a tussle with Jack Grealish. He then picked up his fifth yellow of the season in GW8. Assuming this clerical error isn't anything more than that (who knows after all the controversy this season, right?) and Semedo is indeed suspended, Doherty should be in line to deputize at right back. The former fantasy legend is back home at Wolves after an unsuccessful period away, and while he hasn't yet returned to his glory days in Old Gold, he was in top form with Ireland over the break. Bournemouth have been one of the most forgiving opponents so far this season and I like the Irishman's chances of contributing to an attacking return.

Nathan Collins (D, Brentford v. Burnley)

Reliable defenders that aren't already widely rostered are hard to come by this season (just look at my selections last week for proof), but Collins may be just the type of player you can call on in a pinch, particularly with Brentford set to host Burnley this week. The Bees have been inconsistent at best so far this season, missing their captain Ben Mee on their way to one clean sheet from 8 matches, but they've got a good chance to rectify that this weekend. Mee could even be back in the squad soon, which may or may not be good news for Collins depending on whether Thomas Frank lines up with 4 or 5 at the back, but for this match at least I expect him to be in the lineup to face his former employers. Even with only keeping the one clean sheet, Collins has been ghosting decently well and has a higher floor of points than many of the other available options.

Sergio Reguilon (D, Manchester United @ Sheffield United)

The Blades are the league's least potent attacking outfit so far this season, so there's definitely a bit of extra emphasis on the potential clean sheet for Manchester United defenders this week, even if they have struggled with injuries and the erratic form of Andre Onana. With Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka still missing for this one, Reguilon (who is just returning from an injury himself) should be in line to start at left back. Beyond the clean sheet potential, the Spanish fullback offers plenty of attacking potential as well. That hasn't come to fruition in either of his starts for United so far (5 points with a clean sheet against Burnley being a particularly egregious example), but during his time with Spurs he was regularly putting up double digit scores. With the Blades being as leaky as they have been in defense, I anticipate an improved showing from Reguilon in the late match on Saturday. Since Reguilon is just coming back from injury, there's a possibility that Victor Lindelof could be shifted to right back, with Dalot lining up at left back instead. With the game falling on Saturday evening, there are only a few teams whose players will be available, so be ready to move to a fallback option (perhaps Reserve selection Harry Maguire, who would likely play at CB if Lindelof is needed on the right).

Elliot Anderson (M, Newcastle v. Crystal Palace)

One of the biggest stories to come out over the international break was Sandro Tonali's involvement in online betting while he was at AC Milan. His compatriot Nicolo Fagioli has already been given a 7-month ban by the Italian FA, with Tonali potentially set for a more severe ban based on betting on his own team. The investigation is ongoing, so the midfielder could still be available to play for the Magpies this weekend, but Eddie Howe and the club's owners may want to remove him from the spotlight. Anderson is one of the prime candidates to step into the role in central midfield in his stead. The youngster has started the last four matches, including an unsuccessful stint on the left wing to help offset Anthony Gordon's suspension in GW8. Gordon will return to the lineup this week, but I still think Anderson has a good shot at another start in a more comfortable central midfield role alongside Bruno Guimaraes and Sean Longstaff. Joelinton is another player who could come into the reckoning as he recovers from an injury, but he may not be risked just yet. Anderson has scored well when given the opportunity and prior to last match had done little wrong to make Eddie Howe reconsider his selection in the first team. Still, with other options available, this is one of the selections that may not be a nailed-on starter, so be sure to have a back-up option at the ready if you're able to make live lineup changes.

Jean-Ricner Bellegarde (M, Wolves @ Bournemouth)

After generating a fair amount of positive buzz with his promising first-half display in his Wolves debut against Liverpool, Bellegarde made the ill-advised decision to kick out at an opponent following a tackle in the subsequent match against Luton. The resulting three-match ban was enough for the vast majority of fantasy managers to cut ties with the French midfielder. He's now set to make his return in Gameweek 9, having served his suspension, and should immediately be reinstated to the engine room to provide Gary O'Neill's men with some attacking impetus from the middle of the pitch. Bellegarde is a player very much in the mold of Hamed Traore, who was briefly a fantasy darling when under O'Neill's tutelage at Bournemouth last season. Given the similarities in profile and tactics, I have (perhaps unreasonably) high hopes that Bellegarde will end up being better than a streamer-level fantasy player. Wolves have a favorable upcoming schedule, particularly for midfielders, beginning with this week's match against a Bournemouth side that gives up more points on average to opposition midfielders than any other team. Count me in.

Nicolas Dominguez (M, Nottingham Forest v. Luton)

I was not particularly excited about Dominguez as a fantasy asset when working on a scouting report for him during the summer transfer window, and I still don't think he's going to be a player with long-term value. That said, I have been pleasantly surprised to see a player that was billed as a holding midfielder get into such advanced positions in the most recent matches against Brentford (where he got on the scoresheet) and Crystal Palace. I mentioned in my brief write-up that it was worth monitoring Dominguez to see if he could be a surprise package like Danilo was for Forest last season, and he's been filling that more box-to-box role since he broke into the team three matches back. I think you can expect the Argentine to have a solid floor of 4-6 points in most matches with the potential to contribute to attacking returns in favorable match-ups. Since Forest are hosting Luton, he should be a good shout this week.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (M, Tottenham v. Fulham)

This season feels like a far cry from the Hojbjerg we saw last campaign. The Dutch midfielder has gone from a guaranteed starter and reliable fantasy performer to having a grand total of 2 points across 7 substitute appearances this season. He's clearly not first choice for Ange Postecoglou and was heavily linked with a move to Atletico Madrid over the summer, which never materialized. With Yves Bissouma suspended, though, he's got a chance to remind his managers, real-life and fantasy alike, what he's got to offer. This Spurs team has been a points factory so far this season, so there's no reason to think Hojbjerg couldn't follow up on the very solid ghost point performances that Bissouma and Pape Sarr have been delivering the past few months. The only competition Hojbjerg faces is from Oliver Skipp, who appears to have fallen even further down the pecking order. Keep in mind this is the last match of the gameweek, so you will have extremely limited options if Hojbjerg is left out of the lineup, but I feel mostly confident you can rely on him if you're strapped for options with the potential to deliver a double digit score.

Ryan Gravenberch (M, Liverpool v. Everton)

While Liverpool's South American contingent reportedly returned back to Merseyside a day sooner than they did last international break, it's worth keeping in mind how poor Alexis Mac Allister was after traveling back. He won't have had to deal with the brutal conditions in Bolivia this time, but there's still a chance he'll be on the bench for yet another early kickoff. For what it's worth, I still think the Argentine will start, but even if he does that still leaves a spot that Gravenberch could fill, particularly with Wataru Endo also having to travel back from Japan. It remains to be seen who Jurgen Klopp prefers to join Mac Allister and Szoboszlai in midfield, with injuries and suspensions meaning he's rarely rolled out the same three. Gravenberch has looked very promising in his time on the pitch for the Reds so far, contributing a goal and assist in his matches outside the EPL and hitting the post against Brighton in GW8. With Curtis Jones still suspended and Harvey Elliot not as defensively sound, I think Klopp will turn to the former Ajax and Bayern Munich midfielder to help dominate the central areas. Gravenberch may still fall into the category of most Liverpool mids (those that aren't Hungarian) and not put up a huge number of points, but it's worth bringing him in to see how he does with a start ahead of a very favorable run of fixtures for Liverpool. He could nail down the starting role and be a long-term hold. If he doesn't end up getting the start, it's the first match of the gameweek so you should have plenty of options to pivot to.

Chris Wood (F, Nottingham Forest v. Luton)

With Taiwo Awoniyi reportedly not yet back in full training (though we know not to take Steve Cooper at his word), Wood should be in line for a second consecutive Premier League start for Forest. It's been a while since the heady days of the New Zealander's time with Burnley when he was a serviceable FWD3 and mid-round draft pick. That doesn't mean he's not worth considering as a viable streamer, though, and as I've mentioned elsewhere a home match against one of this season's promoted sides is as good a time as any to see if he can still come through with a match-winning performance. Luton have so far offered up 14.7 points on average to forwards facing them this season, second worst in the division behind only Burnley. Given the lack of high-upside forwards available in the free agent pool for most leagues at this stage of the season, you could certainly do worse than give a chance to a player who has shown in the past he is capable of 20+ point scores (did anyone roster him when he scored 49.5 against Wolves in 21/22?).

Lyle Foster (F, Burnley @ Brentford)

I was surprised to see Foster under 40% rostered in Fantrax given, again, the lack of serviceable forwards. The 86% rostership among the Big 3 divisions feels like a better representation of his value as a FWD3 with the potential to offer more. The South African has been more dependent on attacking returns for his points than many would like, but a goal or assist in each of his last 5 matches suggests he's got the potential to be a sustainable contributor even without many ghost points to fall back on. The only game Foster's played in where he hasn't scored or assisted was against Man City in the season opener all the way back on August 11. Brentford, surprisingly, have been the second toughest opponent for strikers to face so far this season in the Premier League, at least from a fantasy output perspective, so now may not be the best time for a one-week stream. However, I'm a believer in Foster's long-term viability as a fantasy option and would recommend adding him to your team immediately if you're light at the forward position. I still think he's got the potential to score well against the Bees, too, but with Bournemouth and Sheffield United on the horizon he's someone with the potential to help your team over the next month or so, at least.

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