- either everyone is suddenly making great individual decisions each week, or
- teams are starting to merge and its becoming harder to differentiate yourself.
So where does this all leave us? In a word: differentiation. Cheering for Darren Bent goals and Thomas Sorensen clean sheets, while nice to pad your box score will likely do little to gain on your opponents each week. Instead it'll be the assist from David Dunn (4%), goal from Kenwyne Jones (4%) or clean sheet from Alex Song (2%) to make or break the next portion of your season.
How aggressively you pursue differentiators depends on how much ground you have to make up. In short, if you are riding high in the league then it makes sense to stick with what you are doing and maybe pick up the odd quirky player to avoid your team going stagnant. If you are trailing though, the time to act is now. You need players who will chip away at that deficit from day one and sticking with the proven players and searching for transfer targets by points scored already is unlikely to achieve this.
Below are my favourite transfer targets, all of which are currently held by less than 5% owners:
Kevin Prince Boateng (5m 0.5%)
I very nearly ran a separate feature on Boateng such is my enthusiasm for this pickup. His chalkboard from this week against his former club Spurs were frightening in terms of balls played into the danger zone and more impressively shots on goal. In 5 games for Portsmouth he already has two goals, an assist and perhaps most encouragingly, 5 bonus points. Portsmouth have just 5 goals this year (none from strikers) but they have looked better of late and were unlucky in the end not to get a point on Saturday against Spurs. There should be plenty of bonus points to go around with no stars to take them all and with all 5 of his points coming in losses, Boateng has shown he can contribute even when finishing on the losing side. At 5m Boateng tops my buy list and I will be bringing him in myself this week. Portsmouth's fixtures could be better but when picking a bench player the schedule is only important when you plan to play him so if his good games matchup well with your starters' tough ones then this buy makes alot of sense.
David Dunn (5.5m 3.6%)
I have liked Dunn for a while and almost brought him in a while back when I used my wildcard. Allardyce has been singing Dunn's praises of late and he has been playing up front alongside the impressive Di Santo (see below). 4 goals and 9 bonus points in just 6 games is an incredible return and his 6.5 PPG is ahead of Lampard (5.6) and Gerrard (5.9). After weeks 10 and 11 Blackburn's fixtures are very favourable and Dunn looks set to be the main beneficiary in this period.
Kevin Doyle (5.4m 2.9%)
I really like Doyle and his performances this year have been solid to say the least (3 goals in his last 4). I would be higher on him apart from the fact I fully support having three premium strikers, so its hard to find a place for a solid but unspectacular player like Doyle. If however, you are dead set on keeping an expensive midfield or defense then Doyle could be the man to slot in up front. Wolves fixtures are bad for the next four weeks but then open up for the foreseeable future, at which point Doyle is a buy.
Kevin Davies (6.7m 3.5%)
Davies is quietly having a very nice season and with 42 points is currently 9th among strikers. He only has 2 goals but his 4 assists and 8 bonus points are very promising. Davies will play every week and is often given bonus points due to his effort and dedication when Bolton are involved in scrappy games (which is often the case). I think Davies is on the edge of being the third part of a premium forward line which can be started every week without rotation. The next three games are a bit tough but then like Wolves above, the fixtures open up and Davies should be clear to enjoy some consistent production. His 'tough' style and criticism from so-called experts make Davies an unsexy pick and he is a good solid way to gain ground on your opponents.
Franco Di Santo (5.2m 0.3%)
Like Doyle above, I am not sold on having strikers on the bench but if you want to play a 4-4-2 then Di Santo is an intriguing prospect to save some cash. He has looked very impressive in his short time at Blackburn, particularly against Burnley this week. Allarydyce has suggested that Di Santo will continue to play for now and he is a good option in the short term to bring off your bench.
Emmanuel Adebayor (10.1m 7.6%)
Although held by more than 5% of people, I would be remiss if I did not include him here. He is potentially a top 5 striker but is held by significantly less owners than the other top players at his position. City have good fixtures over the coming weeks and I like Adebayor as a great replacement for Torres and Rooney if they can't prove their fitness and will look to him myself when Drogba departs for warmer African climates.