And we're back. Has anything interesting happened in the world since the last time we got together this way? Before I get started with our regularly scheduled Premier League and Premier League Fantasy-related content, I'd like to wish everyone well. We hope you are doing well and finding ways to cope with whatever restrictions you are observing in your part of the world. Clearly, we were frustrated not to have Premier League action to write about and would like to have returned to our little corner of the FPL universe sooner but events being what they are, we are happy to be back and looking forward to returning to bringing you the best coverage we know how (add your own joke here based on how this season has gone for me in FPL fantasy).
I wish I could say that we were going back to our full coverage but we're not quite there yet. Like the rest of the world, we're on the road back to normalcy but getting all the way back to normal will take some time. We know that news, about injuries, squad rotation, discipline, and anything else that might impact starting line-ups are the lifeblood of a site like ours and we'll make sure that we are hitting all of the important notes. If we miss an item on Indiana Vassilev (yes, he's a real player) having stubbed his toe and being at risk of missing out on Aston Villa's bench, we apologize. Rest assured that we will make sure to have all the news that we can find on the players who are likely to feature regularly and figure in your FPL Salary Cap and Draft leagues. We will also do our best to get you a paired down version of the columns you count on to get your sides ready for each match week. Given how quickly the matches are coming, we will likely be keeping it to three columns per match week and, when needs be, we may combine columns across match weeks and give a little forward looking advice late one week to cover both the weekend and the mid-week match week ahead.
With all of that preamble out of the way, what a restart it has been. Liverpool have won the title proving that even a disaster on a global scale can't keep Jurgen Klopp's side from their destiny. Manchester United look reborn as Paul Pogba has returned even though Pogba hasn't exactly been producing fantasy points as we might hope. Arsenal feel like they've already had three entire seasons since the restart stumbling out of the block, going on a hot streak that had supporters dreaming of an unlikely Champions League spot, and then finally to see those dreams dashed at the foot of Jamie Vardy's late equalizer after the Gunners had played well until Eddie Nketiah's overzealous tackle and subsequent red card. Wolves, Spurs, and Sheffield United have stumbled out of the blocks and look likely to vacate the Champions League spots to Chelsea, Leicester City, and Manchester United assuming City's ban is upheld.
On the individual front, Bruno Fernandes has shown that his early form was no small sample size wonder. He has been joined by Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almirón, Willian, Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood, and Emi Martínez have, for varying reasons, wildly outpaced anything that anyone would have reasonably expected entering the Premier League's hiatus. Also, a word for Matt Doherty who has, over his previous ten match weeks, averaged over 6 points per match. Both he and Wolves struggled at times as they looked to figure out their best shape and line-up but since Week 25 he has been absolutely on fire and that continued into and even managed to accelerate coming into the restart.
In the opposite direction, the pace of matches and general drop-offs in form have seen some established fantasy performers fail to deliver. Mesut Ozil hasn't even been making the bench. Sergio Agüero picked up an early injury and looks like he'll miss out on the remainder of the season. Premium players at Manchester City have been subjected to significant rotation meaning that for every scintillating performance there has been a match started on the bench. Finally, Ryan Fraser, creator of the most big chances in the Premier League last season, decided not to sign an extension at Bournemouth ahead of leaving on a free once the transfer window opens. He hasn't had much of a season but for anyone hoping he'd be making a big push onto the free agent market, you'll have to wait until next season when he'll be turning up at a new address.
So, what next?
Well, the obvious answer is that Match Week 35+ is next. The schedule West Ham (@Norwich City), Crystal Palace (@Aston Villa), and Leicester City (@Bournemouth) are all away sides with schedule advantages this week. Here are my thoughts on waiver wire priorities for FPL Draft managers heading into Week 35+.
Goalkeepers - If Emi Martínez is available, I don't know if you want him for the North London Derby where, presumably, Harry Kane will get his traditional goal regardless of the outcome. Lucasz Fabianski may well be available in your league which would be a nice pick-up against the all-but-relegated Canaries at Carrow Road.
Defenders - Leicester City haven't been great since the restart but the comeback at the Emirates should give them some momentum and a trip to Bournemouth is the sort of tonic that has been helping just about everyone (except Spurs, apparently) since the restart. Justin James' fantasy value is likely tied to a Foxes clean sheet but against the Cherries the odds aren't bad.
Midfielders - Mikel Antonio has been starting regularly at forward for West Ham and has had two excellent matches since the restart (he's picked up over a quarter of his points for the entire season over weeks 32+ and 33+) but after going cold in Week 34+ he might be available in your league with the Canaries on the docket. If Antonio isn't available then you might want to take a flier on Dani Ceballos who has been playing well without having any end product to show for it in league play. I expect there will be goals in the North London derby and it wouldn't be a surprise if the Real Madrid loanee were involved.
Forwards - With options likely limited, it is hard to get too excited about any of the available options. Jay Rodríguez has scored in three of four but a trip to Anfield isn't exactly inviting. Leicester City may field a more attacking line-up at the Vitality Stadium which might make Kelechi Iheanacho an option. Finally, the rumblings out of the Emirates are that Mikel Arteta will keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out on the left despite Eddie Nketiah's suspension which means that Alexandre Lacazette should start for the Gunners. Given how much Arteta has been rotating the line-up Lacazette may well be available in your league after a frustrated manager (or two) jettisoned him after a few weeks on the bench.
Good luck to everyone as they comb the waiver wire for an advantage. If you have specific add/drop or waiver wire priority questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @nealjthurman and I'll do my best to answer.