1. With away teams surprisingly faring nearly as well as home sides this far into the season, is home field advantage no longer a factor when selecting line-ups or will things get back to normal?
Whether a team is playing in the comforts of home or in more unfriendly confines has always been a notable factor when selecting fantasy players, but amazingly home field advantage has been nearly nonexistent this late into the season. In each of the past five full BPL seasons, home teams have taken an average of 1.66 points per game compared to 1.32 points per game for their away counterparts, an advantage of 25.2% for home squads over away sides. As for goalscoring, home squads have averaged 1.56 goals per game versus 1.18 goals per game for visiting teams, an advantage of 32.2% for the homebodies.
This season, home teams have won as many games as visitors (40 each) along with 30 draws, meaning that home and away sides are each averaging 1.45 points per game, with no advantage or disadvantage whatsoever. Home teams are scoring more with an average of 1.46 goals per game compared to 1.32 for away sides, a difference of just 11.0%. Clearly home teams are winning by blowout more often than the visitors, whereas away sides are winning closer games as a rule, but that is little consolation for those whose projections have run awry due to this season's unexpected turn of events.
Is this a trend that should be expected to continue the rest of the season, or is it merely an unusually long outlier which will abate with home teams asserting their normal dominance from here on out? If you've been selecting players with an eye toward locale, should you abandon that approach? Or if you've been picking the best players regardless of match-ups, are you merely riding a lucky streak that is destined to end?
2. Will sudden goalscoring superstar Jamie Vardy and/or assist machine Mesut Ozil ever slow down?
Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy tallied five goals and eight assists in 34 Premier League games in 2014-15 as he served as more of a provider than finisher. This season it's the reverse and then some, as the England international has already notched 11 goals in as many games for the Foxes, including a current record tying streak of at least one in eight straight games, along with only a single assist.
Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil has always shown world class playmaking talent, but until now he has disappointed Arsenal fans and fantasy owners without the accompanying stats to back up his wizardry. His adeptness at creating chances has remained constant, only now his teammates are finally finishing them, giving Ozil a league-leading mark of nine assists along with only one goal, basically the opposite of Vardy. In a similar vein, the Germany international is enjoying extremely inflated numbers after managing only five assists in 22 games last season for the Gunners and nine in 26 games the prior campaign.
Can Vardy and Giroud keep on delivering dividends for their early adopters or will the high-flying Leicester and Arsenal offenses diminish along with their stars' scoring and assisting returns, respectively?
3. How accepting are Manchester United fans and fantasy players with Louis Van Gaal's dull, defensive-minded approach?
While Manchester United sits only four points from the top of the table, Red Devils fans are accumstomed not only to winning, but also an attractive attacking style developed and perfected by Alex Ferguson. Louis Van Gaal, on the other hand, seems pleased enough with retaining possession by passing the ball sideways and backwards in the hopes of eventually grinding out a 1-0 or 2-1 victory. Its position in the table owes to tying with the much more offensive-oriented Arsenal for the fewest goals allowed (8, or 0.7 per game), as it is tied for the 9th most goals scored (15, or 1.4 per game), the same number as Norwich and only two more than Sunderland to put it in context.
Talented players such as Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata have turned into underutilized afterthoughts along with a lost Memphis Depay and an overused, well past his prime Wayne Rooney. Will Van Gaal's system carve a path toward offensive joy or should fans and fantasy players be happy hoping for clean sheets from world class keeper David De Gea along with defenders Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling?
4. When is a goal an own goal and when is it a good old fashioned offensive goal instead?
In the Watford/West Ham game, the opening goal was incorrectly credited to Odion Ighalo, despite the seemingly obvious visual evidence that Hammers defender Aaron Cresswell knocked it in with nary a touch from the Hornets striker. Meanwhile, in the Everton/Sunderland tilt, the third goal was duly given as a Sebastian Coates own goal instead of a tally for the pressuring Romelu Lukaku.
If Ighalo had gestured apologetically with his hands that he had nothing to do with the goal as Lukaku had, would the official scorer have credited Cresswell with the own goal? If Lukaku had celebrated as Ighalo had, would the Toffee sniper have been awarded the goal by the mysterious decision maker? How many of you were howling because your fantasy player didn't get a goal you thought he had at first glance, or cheering when he got a goal he really shouldn't have?
5. How will Remy Garde fare at Aston Villa and will the new hire have any fantasy impact?
Former Lyon boss Remy Garde was announced as the new Aston Villa manager shortly prior to the 3-1 away loss to Tottenham, a surprisingly close, competitive game until the final moments. Do you expect any changes to the starting line-up? Can he get more as a whole out of the squad mired in last place than the beleaguered Tim Sherwood could and will any specific players see a benefit from his preferred style of play or will Villa remain an exercise of avoidance in real life and fantasy?
Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!