1. The act, process, or result of differentiating
2. The process of computing a derivative.
3. The process by which cells or tissues undergo a change toward a more specialized form or function, especially during embryonic development.
I hope you all captained Rooney or Fabregas this week! I'm pleased to say this pair were my top 2 captain picks for the week though judging from most of the mini leagues I am in, they were also everyone else's pick. Pure Juice scored 128 points this week and lost ground in the main competition thanks to the double game-weeks of Arsenal and United.
The week served to underline the fact that most teams now have an overlap of at least 4 or 5 players with 7 players owned by 30% of more of all managers. Consider that a number of managers at the bottom of the league have probably not kept up to date and you realise that in reality over half of all your competitors probably most own these players:
- Rooney (44%)
- Sorensen (44%)
- Dunne (41%)
- Fabregas (34%)
- Bent (34%)
- Milner (33%)
- Defoe (30%)
Below are three players from each position who I like in the second half of the season and are owned by less than 10% of owners. I have given bias towards those players with good schedules in the next 8 weeks or so rather than those with a good finish to the season.
- Michael Dawson (5m 3%) - Tottenham's defense has been in great form but none of their defenders are owned by 10% of players and Dawson is owned by just 3%. Dawson has caught the eye of the judges too, being awarded 5 points over the past few weeks as a nice bonus to his 5 clean sheets in the past 6 games. Over the next 10 weeks , Spurs' opponents average just 1.15 goals per game and four opponents average less than 0.8. For those holding budget United players (Brown, Evans) soon to be obsolete, Spurs would be a great train to jump on before it becomes a bandwagon.
- Martin Skrtel (5.6m 2%)- Liverpool have played a kind of 5-3-2 lately with Skrtel playing in either the back line or pushing into a holding role in a 4-1-3-2. I think that even when the back line is fully fit Skrtel should continue to play (ahead of Kyrgiakos) and Liverpool's fixtures are very solid aside from back to back trips to Eastlands and the Emirates. People are off the Liverpool defense this year but they have only conceded once in the last 4 games and might be slowly turning things round. If they do then you better be there first as owners will flock to big names like Carragher and (when fit) Johnson if Liverpool's defense starts to play consistently.
- Scott Dann (4.1m 3%) - Fantasy owners still aren't giving Birmingham enough respect and while many managers own Hart (27%) not many have their back line. I like Dann as a solid bench player who can be played as well as Hart if the fixture is right to give you the edge. In the next 9 weeks Birmingham face just one scary game (@Che next week) and deserve strong consideration for starting berths in weeks 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30).
- Charles N'Z0gbia (5.6m 8%) - I have been on N'Zogbia for some time now and he continues to impress me and the bonus judges (15 bonus points since week 10). Wigan have decent fixtures and are starting to score more goals under Martinez's system so I like N'Zogbia to continue his good form for the foreseeable future. He would be a useful replacement for Hunt, Diaby and Dempsey who are too widely owned now.
- Luka Modric (7.2m 4%) - At the start of the season, Modric was one of the hottest fantasy players to own given his decent price tag and the fact that when he plays he is often central to most good things Spurs do. After injuries, the excellent form of Lennon and the arrival of Kranjcar, Modric has been forgotten somewhat and is now owned by less than 5% of owners (some of whom probably still have him since week 1 having neglected to change their team). Spurs have some good looking fixtures and are playing fairly well at the moment, though not scoring as many as they'd like. They are clearly missing Lennon but Modric should be able to fill that void and having played 180 minutes this week Modric has proven he is fit and ready to make a difference.
- Steve Pienaar (6.3m 5%) - Pienaar is in great form and will start to be noticed by fantasy managers very soon. Everton's fixtures are tough which turns me off somewhat but the imminent return of Arteta from injury and Yakubu from Africa should improve the potency of an improving Everton side who Pienaar is now an integral part of.
- Ivan Klasnic (6m 1%) - Klasnic has become somewhat of a cult hero in Bolton thanks to his miraculous recovery from two kidney transplants along with his top performances this year. In the 7 games Klasnic has played for an hour, he has scored 6 goals and although he is a rotation risk when Bolton go away from home and switch to a 4-5-1 he should see plenty of action under the more attack minded Owen Coyle.
- Louis Saha (7m 6%) - Like Pienaar above, Saha will benefit from the return of Cahill and Everton should continue to improve as the season goes on. I like Saha to continue to score and he could touch 20 goals when all is said and done (currently 11). He is a consistent scorer who can score against the big boys (Ars, Che, Tot and MNC already this year) and you can easily plug him in the side and forget about it provided he can avoid the injuries that have plagued his career to date.
- Dimitar Berbatov (9.4m 1%) - This will be a controversial pick and to be honest it is probably a move for those in 20th rather than 2nd place. Nevertheless the polarizing Bulgarian has 7 goals for the season despite missing time due to injury in weeks 12-14. He is a rotation risk, though with Owen far from proving himself so far, Ferguson may be forced to play Berbatov and Rooney in most games for the rest of the season. I also think Tevez's success will push Ferguson to try and prove that he made the right decision in opting for Berbatov over the Argentinian. At 9.4m he is a huge risk but even those players currently unavailable like Drogba and Torres are widely owned and if you need to get back into your title race then it will take a bold move and as we have seen from his Spurs days, when Berbatov plays and plays well, he can be unplayable.