This article is part of our FPL Roundup series.
Gameweek 9 of the Premiership season turned out to be a clunker in fantasy terms, as the average 30-point total in the league's official fantasy game easily marked the lowest to this point in the campaign.
Saturday's action got off to a slow start, with Tottenham and Bournemouth's opening match finishing in a scoreless draw, before Arsenal versus Middlesbrough and Swansea City against Watford ended the same way. Thanks to a late goal from Winston Reid, West Ham avoided the same score line, but still joined the Saturday's clean sheet club, which also included Stoke City from their 2-0 win at Hull City.
With those results, eight of the first 14 teams to play this weekend held their opponents scoreless, substituting clean sheets for goals at the forefront of fantasy tallies.
Sunday's action featured a pair of top-10 tussles, as Southampton traveled to Manchester City and Chelsea hosted Manchester United and former manager Jose Mourinho.
By sealing a 1-1 draw, Southampton built Man City's winless streak to three games – and five across all competitions – throwing another wrench at a Citizens side that carried a perfect overall record before that stretch. In conceding to Southampton's Nathan Redmond, whose early-season hype is justified by his current top-20 standing among fantasy midfielders, the Citizens have now kept just one clean sheet through nine league matches.
Elsewhere, some speculated Mourinho would park his £200 million bus in order to earn points at his old ground, but Chelsea quickly thwarted that potential tactic, scoring in the first minute en route to a 4-0 romp of Man United. On the back of that defeat, the Red Devils have won just once since Gameweek 3 and Mourinho's 14 points through his first nine games in charge of Man United equals that of David Moyes three years prior.
Around the one-quarter mark of this season, defending champions Leicester City place 12th in the standings, evidencing an unsurprising dip in form following their fairytale title run. Whereas the Foxes lost three games over the entirety of last term, they've already dropped four contests this time around. However, examining their overall results reveals a different team at home compared to away from the King Power Stadium.
To that point, all four of the Foxes defeats have come on the road, where they've actually yet to earn a single point. In fact, Leicester's minus-10 away goal difference ranks last in the Premiership, as do their 13 goals conceded. Although away matches against Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea already haven't helped the Foxes to start this season, they'll still be disappointed by their lopsided losses. Last season, Leicester led the league in both points (39) and goal difference (15) on the road.
On the flip side, with an unbeaten five-game record at the KP, only Chelsea sports more than the Leicester's 11 points at home this season, and only three teams top their plus-6 goal difference. Furthermore, dating back to last season, the Foxes have reeled off 20 straight matches without a home defeat in Premiership play.
While last season's fantasy headliners Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have generally been quiet on the whole, the defense that supported Leicester's streak to silverware has remained stout on home soil. The Foxes have conceded just two goals in five home Premiership matches, clinching three clean sheets along the way. So though road trips warrant a contrasting outlook, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and first-choice defenders Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs have supplemented their respective fantasy stocks at home, with Morgan and Fuchs even scoring already this term.
If Leicester hope to trek back toward the top of the table, they'll need to improve on the road, but considering the Foxes will play Man City, Everton, West Ham, Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool all within their next eight home matches, their sparkling form at the KP should soon be put to the test, too.
While their pedestrian nine points through nine games maybe suggests otherwise, Stoke City are actually one of the most in-form teams in the Premiership. With two straight 2-0 wins to extend their streak to four matches unbeaten, the Potters have turned around a start that saw them sitting in last place with just one point only a month ago. Their Saturday win was done in some style, as midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri's brace included a surefire goal of the season candidate.
Stoke's surge can partially be credited to an improved defense. Through their first five matches, Mark Hughes' men shipped 14 goals, including four-goal feasts to Manchester City, Tottenham and Crystal Palace. Since then, Stoke have only conceded a stoppage-time goal to West Brom and a goal at Manchester United. Interestingly, that fortification has coincided with long-time Championship goalkeeper Lee Grant taking his chance to fill in for injured starlet Jack Butland (ankle). In four starts, the 33-year-old Grant has produced 13 saves and put together a pair of clean sheets, giving him 19 fantasy points. Costing just £4.0m, Grant is as cheap as they come at his position, which should certainly catch the attention of fantasy owners.
Besides Grant and Shaqiri on Saturday, another recent Stoke standout has been midfielder Joe Allen, who flaunts four goals over his team's last four outings. The Welshman's sudden scoring streak started once he was shifted into a more advanced attacking position. Playing as the Potters' No. 10, Allen has fired nine shots, putting seven on target, during his four-game stretch, which is far more enticing than his three shots and none on target from Stoke's first five. At £5.0m, Allen ranks 14th among midfielders in the Premiership's official fantasy game.
While Grant and Allen's respective fantasy flourishes have helped Stoke's rise in the standings, the Potters' upcoming schedule suggests their ascent could continue, with more players potentially padding their stocks along the way. Stoke's next five league matches read as follows: Swansea (H), West Ham (A), Bournemouth (H), Watford (A), Burnley (H).
Given those favorable fixtures, Stoke could become an unlikely hotbed for fantasy findings in the weeks to come.