World Cup qualifying is finally complete, and the Premier League returns with a jam-packed schedule on Saturday.
The North London derby (Arsenal vs. Tottenham) gets things started, and the other four "Big Six" clubs are in action on Saturday as well, before single games on Sunday (Watford vs. West Ham) and Monday (Brighton vs. Stoke).
Here are the top 10 things you need to know heading into Gameweek 12, from a fantasy perspective:
Question marks: All eyes will be on the Tottenham lineup in particular come 6:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. Dele Alli (hamstring) missed the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in Gameweek 11, and Harry Kane (knee) sat out England's friendlies against Germany and Brazil during the international break. But both returned to training on Thursday ahead of the game against Arsenal, and are likely to start.
The news is not as good on defender Toby Alderweireld (hamstring), who could be out until the new year. Spurs defenders continue to be a risky proposition in Fantasy Premier League, anyway -- Ben Davies didn't start for the third time in four league games the last time out, and Kieran Tripper was on the bench, too.
I was a little surprised to see that Christian Eriksen has been the fourth-most dropped player in FPL this week, given that he's scored the fourth-most points among all midfielders so far. Yes, he's gone without a goal or an assist in three straight league games. But he scored a hat trick on Tuesday in Denmark's 5-1 win over the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup playoffs. I'm sticking with Eriksen, despite the pain that performance inflicted on me.
Stay away: Arsenal is the home team on Saturday, but I don't love any of their players FPL-wise against Spurs. I have Nacho Monreal on my team, who's ranked eighth among all defenders so far, but I'm probably keeping him on the bench against Kane & Co.
It sounds like Olivier Giroud (thigh) will miss this match, so maybe Alexandre Lacazette will play a full 90 minutes for the first time since the opening game of the season. But that's not enough to convince me to transfer in Lacazette, given the opponent. Remember, he didn't even start in the 3-1 loss to Manchester City before the international break (although he did score a goal off the bench).
Aaron Ramsey is worth monitoring -- he's posted 12, nine and six FPL points in the past three games, including two goals and two assists, and only costs 7 million pounds. And Danny Welbeck (groin), who's missed the past three league games, could return on Saturday.
More drama: As good as Manchester City has been this season, they still feel like a roller coaster fantasy-wise, between Pep Guardiola's unpredictable lineup rotations and various other issues. The latest surprise? Sergio Aguero -- not long back from broken ribs suffered in a taxi accident in Amsterdam on an off day -- started for Argentina against Nigeria on Tuesday, but reportedly fainted in the dressing room at halftime and was sent to hospital.
Aguero has returned to Manchester, and announced via Twitter on Thursday that he's fit to play on Saturday at Leicester City. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if Gabriel Jesus gets the nod over Aguero at center forward, given what happened. In fact, I was going to transfer Jesus out of my FPL team this week, since he hasn't started two of the past three league games. But now I think I'll keep him for at least one more week.
Man City will definitely be without defender Nicolas Otamendi on Saturday -- he's suspended for one game due to yellow-card accumulation. That's disappointing for many FPL players -- he's tied for fourth among all defenders with 59 points, and is currently on 17.2 percent of rosters.
Leroy Sane remains the top overall scorer in FPL with 73 points, despite only picking up two points last time out against Arsenal. Raheem Sterling (back) pulled out of the England squad during the break, and his status for Saturday is up in the air at this point.
Repeat offense: Sadio Mane made a surprise return to Liverpool's starting lineup in their 4-1 win over West Ham in Gameweek 11, and posted 10 FPL points, thanks to two assists and two bonus points. Unfortunately, he then re-injured himself on international duty with Senegal, and may not be available on Saturday against Southampton.
Philippe Coutinho appears more likely to play -- he missed Liverpool's past two league games, but started and played 68 minutes in Brazil's scoreless draw against England on Tuesday.
However, the player to have on Liverpool right now is clearly Mohamed Salah, who has risen to second overall with 72 points, just one behind Sane, after his brace against West Ham. Salah has seven goals and three assists in 11 league games of the season. And Liverpool are the second-biggest favorites this weekend according to FiveThirtyEight's Soccer Power Index, behind only Manchester United (who will host Newcastle).
By the way, Adam Lallana could make his season debut for Liverpool on Saturday -- one to keep an eye on for the long term.
Out of my sight! David Luiz was dropped from Chelsea's squad entirely for their 1-0 win over Manchester United before the break, reportedly due to a training-ground spat with manager Antonio Conte. That certainly doesn't bode well for Luiz's fantasy value, yet he's still on 12.6 percent of FPL rosters.
He'll cost you nearly an extra million pounds, but Cesar Azpilicueta (6.8 million) is the Chelsea defender to have on your roster, if you can afford him. Azpilicueta now has 67 points -- tied for third overall with Aguero, behind only Sane and Salah -- after notching his fifth assist of the season last time out.
All five of those assists have gone to Alvaro Morata, who scored his first goal since Gameweek 6. Despite that mini-drought, Morata has seven league goals and three assists, and is fourth among all forwards with 63 points -- four points behind Aguero, two behind Kane and one behind Romelu Lukaku.
Furthermore, at 10.3 million pounds, Morata costs far less than Aguero (11.8 million), Kane (12.8 million) and Lukaku (11.5 million). He even costs less than Jesus (10.5 million), who's well behind him in points (54) and is far from a nailed-on starter. Morata starts every week, and Chelsea's upcoming fixtures are very attractive -- they play only one "Big Six" club in their next 10 league games, and that's against leaky-at-the-back Liverpool. I'm planning to bring Morata in for Jesus but, as mentioned above, I'll probably wait one more week.
Woe-Phil: Everybody's favorite bargain on Manchester United, Phil Jones, has been ruled out of Saturday's game against Newcastle after aggravating a calf injury on England duty. He's ranked third among all defenders with 59 FPL points, yet still only costs 5.5 million pounds. I'm just going to stash him on my bench this week, as opposed to transfer him out. But if you have Jones and want to make a move, Chris Smalling has started the past five games, even with Jones in the lineup, and will only cost you 5.3 million.
The bigger question on Man United is regarding Lukaku, who after a torrid start has not scored a goal in their past four league games. But he has picked up two assists in that time, and is a guaranteed starter. And this is not the time to drop him -- playing at home against Newcastle, with Brighton at home up next, followed by a game at Watford.
Paul Pogba (hamstring), who hasn't played since Gameweek 4, could make his return this week. But, as good as he was early in the season with two goals and three assists in four games, it's way too much of a risk to add him to your FPL squad this week.
Familiar refrain: Hey everyone, it's your weekly reminder to add Richarlison to your FPL squad! The young Brazilian continues to captivate, scoring his fourth goal of the season in Watford's 3-2 loss to Everton last time out. He also drew a penalty, which would have resulted in an assist if Tom Cleverley had converted the PK. Maybe next time Marco Silva will let Richarlison take the kick himself?
He already has four assists this season as well, and with 58 points is tied for seventh among all midfielders. And, after taking four more shots against Everton, he now has 39 shots on the season -- only Kane has taken more. Watford's opponent this week, West Ham, have given up more goals (23) than any other team thus far. David Moyes has taken over as manager for Slaven Bilic, but I doubt he can fix the West Ham defense that quickly.
B-fense: We now turn to Burnley, boasting the best defensive bargains in FPL this season. They've given up only nine goals in 11 league games -- only the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham have given up fewer. And they're hosting Swansea on Saturday, who've scored seven goals in 11 games -- only Crystal Palace have scored fewer.
With 56 points, left back Stephen Ward is tied for fourth among all defenders with Otamendi. But he's also the "priciest" Burnley defender at 4.9 million pounds. Center back Ben Mee and right back Matthew Lowton both have 45 points, and will only cost you 4.5 million. I'd lean toward Mee, who has collected five bonus points in the past two weeks.
Stoked: I'll continue to recommend Stoke City's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who picked up his third assist of the season in a 2-2 draw with Leicester City last time out. Yes, Choupo-Moting still hasn't scored a goal since his brace against Manchester United in Gameweek 4. But he's generally playing further upfield as a forward, and after taking four more shots against Leicester he's now up to 33 on the season, placing him fifth in the league. Not bad for 5.7 million pounds.
His teammate, Xherdan Shaqiri, was the star of that game with a goal, an assist and three bonus points. I like him too, but he's slightly more expensive at 5.9 million, and I definitely wouldn't want two Stoke midfielders on my FPL team. Choupo-Moting gets my vote based on being slightly cheaper and a bigger goal threat.
Keeper talk: I don't spend much time writing about, or worrying about, goalkeepers. But this week it seems worth addressing, because David de Gea is now tied for fifth overall in FPL points (65) with Harry Kane (wow!), thanks in large part to eight clean sheets in 11 games thus far.
De Gea is currently on 41.0 percent of FPL rosters, and you have to at least consider bringing him in. But his price has also risen to 5.7 million pounds -- very expensive for a goalkeeper.
If you're short of funds for that move, Huddersfield's Jonas Lossl -- yes, Huddersfield's Jonas Lossl -- is second among all goalkeepers with 56 points, and only costs 4.6 million pounds. Lossl does have five clean sheets, but he's been greatly boosted by picking up an assist in Gameweek 9, and a penalty save in Gameweek 10.
Instead, I'm thinking of rolling the dice with Burnley's Nick Pope, the injury replacement for Tom Heaton (who's not expected back any time soon). Pope is sixth among all goalkeepers with 45 points, despite the fact he didn't even play the first three weeks of the season, and will only cost you 4.5 million pounds.
I know what you're thinking -- Burnley, again? But six of their next seven league games are against non-"Big Six" clubs. And you can't help but pull for Sean Dyche's squad anyway, right? Up the Clarets!