This article is part of our FPL Roundup series.
On the back of the last international break of the season, the Premier League returned this past weekend for a nine-gameweek run to close the campaign. Round 30 kicked off in some style, as top-seven rivals Liverpool and Everton met in the latest installment of the Merseyside derby. Although the Reds put together a convincing 3-1 victory, their triumph wasn't without trouble to their best player.
After needing just eight minutes to open the scoring with his 13th goal of the season, Sadio Mane went down awkwardly with a knee injury during the second half. At the moment, the extent of Mane's problem is unclear, but manager Jurgen Klopp will certainly be holding out for good news. In his first season at Anfield, Mane leads Liverpool in goals and has been credited with seven assists in the Premiership's official fantasy game. Those totals have made him a top-five midfielder.
If Mane is sidelined for long, fantasy owners will be tasked with replacing his huge production. For them and Liverpool alike, that could come in the form of 21-year-old Divock Origi. Admittedly, Origi's forward designation doesn't make him a direct replacement for Mane, but it may be worth it for fantasy owners to find a way to get him in their lineups. In only 879 minutes of Premier League action, Origi boasts five goals and four assists. Incidentally, the Belgian's most-recent score came after he was called to replace the injured Mane on Saturday. In fact, Origi needed just three minutes before adding Liverpool's third, which effectively ended the match.
Priced at just £6.1m, Origi is easily affordable and would probably be best utilized as a high-upside third striker in fantasy squads. Until Mane's prognosis surfaces, Origi should be counted on to fill his absence in Liverpool's front three, and games against Bournemouth (H) and Stoke (A) in the coming week only sweeten his stock.
Similar to Liverpool, Tottenham's top performer is on the mend, leaving a considerable hole in their frontline. However, compared to the Reds using a striker to fill in for a midfielder, Spurs seem destined to find success by doing the opposite.
Despite Harry Kane's ankle injury again exposing Tottenham's lack of a ready-made alternative to him, fantasy midfielder Heung-Min Son has served well in his stead this season, and he scored off the bench Saturday at Burnley. That marked Son's eighth league goal, and he also sports six assists despite having only started 15 times. Four of those occasions were when Kane was sidelined earlier this term, and Son combined to contribute toward three goals in those appearances.
With that kind of efficiency, the South Korean should definitely be on fantasy radars ahead of matchups with Swansea (A) and Watford (H) this week, especially considering he logged a goal and an assist versus the former back in December.
In starting Spurs' last six Premier League outings, Davies has compiled three clean sheets, helping his team enter the final stretch of the season with the division's top defensive record. In picking up an assist along the way, Davies has averaged 4.3 fantasy points per match over that span. For reference, only 12 players are averaging more than that for the entire season.
In returning to his former stomping ground, Swansea, this week, Davies has another good shot at a clean sheet, and depending on how long Rose remains sidelined, he could capitalize on home matchups against Watford and Bournemouth after that.
While Tottenham sit atop the defensive ranks, their North London rivals have struggled mightily in the area of late. That would be Arsenal, of course, who conceded yet another early goal in Sunday's 2-2 draw versus Manchester City.
Admittedly, stopping a star-studded lineup like the Citizens' is no small task, but Arsenal's defense has played a large role in the team's tumultuous second half of the season. In fact, over the past six rounds of the Premier League, no team has surrendered more goals than the Gunners. With goalkeeper Petr Cech (calf) out and top defender Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) forced off at halftime Sunday, the Gunners' leaders at the back are suddenly out of commission as well.
If that duo is unable to return soon, Arsenal will be left with an unfamiliar back five – David Ospina, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel Paulista and Nacho Monreal – of players who've all struggled with form of late. Although 13th-place Leicester represents Arsenal's highest-positioned opponent in their next four matches, the team's current defensive shortcomings could prevent them from taking all the points necessary.
Speaking of Leicester, the Foxes are back on fire ever since turning the page on manager Claudio Ranieri and drafting Craig Shakespeare to run their show. In defeating Stoke, 2-0 on Saturday, Shakespeare became the first English manager to win each of his first four Premier League matches.
Thanks to that much-needed surge, last year's champions are now perched six points clear of the relegation zone, and only three points outside of ninth place. Considering the form they're in, another top-half finish miraculously doesn't seem out of question for Leicester, particularly since their top players are back at their best.
Since Shakespeare took over, Jamie Vardy has gone on to score four goals and dole out two assists, showing the ruthlessness that earned him the Player of the Season honor last year. Meanwhile, his partner in crime, Riyad Mahrez, has also started to percolate, netting twice over the last four games.
Although the end product of Vardy and Mahrez has proven invaluable to Leicester's success, a new presence in the middle of the park has finally helped stabilize the team following last summer's departure of all-action dynamo N'Golo Kante.
Signed from Belgium club Genk in January, 20-year-old Wilfred Ndidi has hit the ground running in England. The Nigerian opened his account by scoring versus Stoke over the weekend and provided an assist in both of Leicester's previous two matche, but his overall involvement makes him most valuable in category-rich fantasy formats. To that point, through his first nine games, Ndidi leads Leicester in average aerial wins (4.3) and tackles (4.4) per match, and trails only Mahrez in shot attempts (two) and Danny Drinkwater in completed passes (45.6) per outing.
With Vardy, Mahrez and Ndidi leading the way, Leicester's fantasy options have come back to the forefront for the final stage of this season, which they seem intent on ending on a high note.