With just four weeks of play remaining, the Premier League is reaching the crucial stages of the season. The races for both the title and relegation are still in full swing, while four clubs battle it out for the two remaining automatic Champions League spots. With so much of the season having already been played, it's frankly remarkable that Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United all are within three points of each other as they chase a top-four perch in the table.
As things stand, Tottenham and Arsenal would be the ones to secure Champions League fixtures next season, but Chelsea and United will certainly do their best to change that by the end of the campaign. For the latter two, the greatest challenge is that they must yet face one another in a match that will could eliminate either (or both) on April 28th. At this stage, one match really can make that much of a difference in the Premier League -- and in fantasy, it is no different.
There are only four matchweeks left, so you will have to make every one of them count if you want to win, or at least move up the table in your ESPN league. In order to help you maximize your returns for the rest of the way, we've broken down each of the four clubs chasing a Champions League spot and noted the stars and sleepers who could well help you to win your league.
Remaining Fixtures: Manchester City (A), Brighton (H), West Ham (H), Bournemouth (A), Everton (H)
Best week to stack: 36
Star: Christian Eriksen, Tier 1 Midfield: After yet another ankle injury for Harry Kane, everyone's focus immediately shifted to Son Heung-Min. When he didn't start at the weekend, and Lucas Moura scored an impressive hat-trick against Huddersfield, people started looking at the Brazilian as an attractive fantasy option. While that was going on, Eriksen returned to blistering form -- and it feels like no one is watching. Over the past five matches, the Danish midfielder has led the league in both assists (3) and chances created (20), while also ranking in the top five in shots. In fantasy, Eriksen now boasts a higher points-per-game average (13.79) than any other outfield Tottenham player on the season. While owning Spurs players may not appeal to you this week due to the tough matchup against City, it should be noted that if anyone can break them down, it's Eriksen. He has recorded five goals and five assists against them in 12 matches across all competitions.
Sleeper: Hugo Lloris, Goalkeeper: While the attack has drawn most of the attention this season, Lloris has been having a quietly superb season at the back. At least he was, before some recent high-profile penalty saves -- two of which came in the Premier League. Considering those kinds of heroics each earn a whopping 10 points, it's no wonder Lloris has pushed up to No. 2 in goalkeeper points in the ESPN game (394.6). That's obviously not the whole story though. The World Cup winner ranks in the top 10 in six of the nine ESPN goalkeeper categories, which is better than any other keeper from these four clubs. This ability to provide points in just about every way makes him one of the most reliable goalkeepers in fantasy. This week may be a bit rough as Lloris faces City for the third time in the last four outings (across all competitions), but you should definitely target him when he faces West Ham and their bottom-10 attack.
Remaining fixtures: Crystal Palace (H), Wolves (A), Leicester (A), Brighton (H), Burnley (A)
Best week to stack: 38
Star: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Tier 1 Forward: Aubameyang has not exactly had the season I predicted back in December, but the main point from that article -- that the Arsenal man was an elite fantasy striker -- has definitely held up. After his odd goal against Watford, the Gabonese forward has now recorded 18 goals on the season, just one shy of the Premier League lead. In fantasy, he lurks just outside the top-10 overall while leading all Arsenal players with 402.9 points in the ESPN game. While it's difficult to capture the majority of his fantasy points in a season-long format due to his randomly being dropped from the starting lineup, there is no such issue in our game. You can simply check and make sure he's in Arsenal's XI before adding him to your squad. While I've listed MW38 as the best time to own Arsenal players, Aubameyang has one of the easiest run-ins of any player and should definitely merit a long look any time he starts.
Sleeper: Granit Xhaka, Tier 3 Midfield: To be honest, I already had Xhaka marked as my Arsenal sleeper when he was in Tier 2, and the fact that he's dropped a level in our latest update just makes him even more valuable. Yes, he has the same starting concerns as Aubameyang but, lately, when he has started, he's been fantastic. Over his last 10 starts, Xhaka has averaged 11.71 points per game -- a mark that would make him a top-20 player had he managed that pace all season. You'd assume manager Unai Emery would utilize the 26-year-old in the coming double-game week, and you'll definitely want to start him if that is indeed the case. This week, Arsenal will face Crystal Palace and Wolves which look like prime pickings for Xhaka, considering he recorded a combined 30.7 points when facing those two clubs the first time around. If he is able to repeat that feat he would be just the second player in this tier to score 30-plus points in a week all season. With both a high weekly average and potentially the highest ceiling in his tier, Xhaka is a must-own if you see him starting on Sunday.
Remaining fixtures: Burnley (H), Manchester United (A), Watford (H), Leicester (A)
Best week to stack: 35
Star: Eden Hazard, Tier 1 Midfield: There is not an easier selection on this entire list. Hazard is currently running away with the top spot in the ESPN game, with a nearly 60 point lead on second-place Mohamed Salah. This is largely off the back of the 28 goals (16 scored, 12 assisted) of which he's been a part this season -- two more than anyone else in the league. Obviously, that has boosted his fantasy value, but Hazard would still be an elite fantasy option if goals didn't even exist. In this scenario, the Belgian talisman would take a whopping hit of 253 points and drop all the way down to, well, second overall behind only Virgil van Dijk. While Hazard only has four remaining matches compared to everyone else on this list's five, there's still every chance that the Chelsea man tops that heap over that period, as well as the end of the season.
Sleeper: David Luiz, Tier 1 Defender: Speaking of being only behind van Dijk, the Liverpool man is the only defender to have recorded more points (452.9) than Luiz thus far this season (374.2). Luiz has managed this in a very "jack of all trades, master of none" sort of way, ranking top five among this tier in 10-of-15 scoring categories, but leading only in blocks. This style of play makes him the preferred Chelsea defender over César Azpilicueta, whose efforts lead to a bit less consistency in terms of fantasy return. To that point, Luiz has recorded three more double-digit point games than his Spanish teammate. Whether or not you want to invest in a Chelsea defender against three top-10 attacks (Manchester United, Watford, Leicester) throughout the rest of the season is up to you. However, if you do, Luiz should be the choice.
Remaining fixtures: Everton (A), Manchester City (H), Chelsea (H), Huddersfield (A), Cardiff (H)
Best week to stack: 37
Star: Paul Pogba, Tier 1 Midfield: Pogba has certainly had his ups and downs this season, and both have been on display in recent weeks. After four consecutive weeks of posting single-digit fantasy returns, the Frenchman had himself a day against West Ham over the weekend, recording a week-high 34 points. It definitely seems as though the positives outweigh the negatives on the whole though, as Pogba has been decidedly the third best player in the ESPN game this season -- both in total points (481.7) and average points-per-game (16.06), fitting in between Salah and Raheem Sterling in each category. Going forward, Manchester United have a few tough tests, which could cost them a spot in the Champions League next season. However, they do still have some tasty fixtures in the form of the Huddersfield and Cardiff matches. If you are behind in your league in the final two weeks and need to make up ground, Pogba could well be a gamble worth taking.
Sleeper: None: Frankly, there's no one at Manchester United that fits the sleeper category. Ashley Young is really the only player that comes close to fitting the bill and, even after being demoted to Tier 2, he still doesn't look to be an attractive option in fantasy. Perhaps this assessment is part of the problem with our believing they'll finish any higher than sixth.