The unpredictability of this year's top-flight campaign in England continued in Week 15 with shock losses for Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool and major victories for their opponents Stoke City, AFC Bournemouth and Newcastle. As we head into the massive fixture congestion of the holidays, there are a number of questions we want your thoughts on. Here are the most pressing:
What do Chelsea need to do to save their season?
15 games. 15 points. One point per game. Let this sink in for a moment: On current form, Chelsea are on track to finish the season with 38 points. That's a 49 point drop-off from their title-winning campaign last season and while it would have been enough to see them survive in each of the last three seasons, there have been many seasons where 38 points has not been enough to avoid relegation.
This isn't to say Chelsea will finish with 38 points (they won't), but more of an illustration of their massive fall from grace in such a short period of time. This kind of collapse doesn't happen without consequences, and there's little doubt that any other Premier League manager with the same expectations would have gotten the sack well before now.
So, why is The Special One still in charge of the Blues? Is it the big-money payoff he'd be owed if his contract was to be terminated? Because there are no managers of a similar pedigree available (that would work for Roman Abramovich, that is)? That Chelsea are still alive (at the time of posting) in the Champions League that Abramovich so desperately covets? A misplaced sense of owing him another chance after unceremoniously firing him when he was clearly the top manager in the world?
One thing is clear: time is running out for Chelsea to right the ship. Should they stick or twist?
Where is the fantasy value in Manchester United's squad?
The Red Devils are a conundrum this season. They're putting up results, but rarely with any sort of stand-out performance that translates to solid fantasy points, especially in attack. Louis van Gaal's men arguably have the most favorable run of fixtures heading into the new year, facing off against Bournemouth, Newcastle, Norwich City and Swansea City over the next six games, along with a home match against Chelsea and the trickiest fixture being away to Stoke City in Week 18.
With injuries, form and manager preference leading to an ever-rotating cast of characters in the starting lineup, though, can any of United's players be trusted to deliver fantasy returns above their respective values? Chris Smalling has been the lone bright spot if you're looking for consistency, but his price may be prohibitive if you haven't already invested.
So, where do we look to cover the upcoming run of matches? Juan Mata? Anthony Martial? Maybe even the much-maligned Wayne Rooney?
Which Watford FC striker is the better fantasy play moving forward?
The pre-season previews for this season were almost exclusively focused on Troy Deeney as Watford's player to keep an eye on in the Premier League. Unfortunately for a large number of us who bought in on the newly-promoted striker, it was Deeney's under-the-radar strike partner Odion Ighalo who got off to the brighter start in the early stages of the season.
Ighalo has continued his goalscoring exploits for the Hornets, but Deeney has come into his own after taking some time to acclimate to the Premier League and has scored in each of Watford's last four games. With penalty duty adding to his scoring potential. is Deeney the better fantasy option moving forward, or does Ighalo's longer run of consistency make him the more attractive player?
Which teams are least susceptible to rotation this month?
December is notorious for being the most difficult month in the Premier League season, with fatigue, injuries, cold weather and fixture congestion all playing a part in the challenge. Rotation is one of the best ways for managers to keep their squads fresh through the end of the calendar year and especially comes into play for those teams taking part in multiple competitions (Champions League, Europa League and Capital One Cup).
As we begin planning our teams for the festive period, we should be looking at teams and players who are less likely to face rotation. Should we be avoiding teams playing on multiple fronts? Those that are ravaged by injuries? Teams without much squad depth to begin with? Where are the best places to look?
Which team is most in need of reinforcements in January?
The winter transfer window is almost never as exciting as the summer window, with transfer targets usually more expensive than they're worth when teams could just wait til the end of the season to make their move. However, there are often some situations where teams are forced to buy, usually in the case of an injury (though not always).
Arsenal are in the throes of their annual injury crisis, while Bournemouth have needed help at striker since Callum Wilson got injured back in September. Chelsea's struggles could see them in the market for a purchase or two as well, and we could also see any or all of the newly appointed managers begin shaping their squads with players of their choosing as well. So, which team(s) should be splashing the cash for the new year?