THE likes of Kevin De Bruyne (£7.6m), Mohamed Salah (£8.9m) and Harry Kane (£7.5m) have plundered plenty of Dream Team points so far this season but their success is almost taken for granted at this stage of their careers.
Gaffers will always rely on a host of big names but it's often the savvy differentials who make the difference when it comes to the mini-league rankings.
This season has featured its fair share of surprise packages and here we've identified the five most impactful.
Fabian Schar (£4m)
Newcastle's defensive dominance has been one of the defining features of this Dream Team campaign.
The Magpies have conceded just 18 league goals this term, seven fewer than Manchester City and Arsenal, the next-best defences.
Kieran Trippier (£6m) leads the way among defenders with 192 points and while the extent of his success has been a surprise, the fact he was among the most-selected players prior to Game Week 1 is proof that gaffers had faith in him.
In contrast, few if any would have anticipated the Swiss centre-back's towering points tally.
Schar made his intentions clear with a 18-point haul in Game Week 1 and his current total of 126 is still only bettered by Trippier overall.
The 31-year-old started at just £2million and has returned 15 clean sheets to date – gaffers who jumped on early were handsomely rewarded.
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Kaoru Mitoma (£3.9m)
Brighton's No22 averages 4.4 points-per-game, a rate only bettered by Phil Foden (£5.2m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£7.6m) among midfielders to have played at least three games.
A skilful winger, Mitoma has scored eight goals and provided four assists in the last 14 Game Weeks for one of the league's most enterprising attacking outfits.
Solly March (£3.5m) and Alexis Mac Allister (£3.2m) have also benefited from Roberto De Zerbi's entertaining tactics but it's the Japan international who leads the way among the trio with 109 points.
He's the leading asset in his position among those without European commitments to bolster his schedule – and he didn't register his first point until Game Week 12!
Gabriel Martinelli (£3.7m)
In many ways, Arsenal as a whole have been the surprise package of the season.
The Gunners failed to make top four in 2021/22 but are in a great position to win the Premier League this term with 11 fixtures remaining.
And their Brazilian No11 has more than played his part with 12 league goals, including five in his last five outings.
Bukayo Saka (£5.4m) and Gabriel Jesus (£5.3m) were well backed back in August but it soon became apparent that Martinelli was the value-for-money goal threat.
The 21-year-old's form deserted him briefly but he's responded brilliantly in recent weeks and is now the sixth-best forward in the game.
Having previously been either a rotation option or an impact substitute, Martinelli is now firmly a regular and, given his age, he should only get better in the coming years.
Miguel Almiron (£3.3m)
The Paraguayan winger has scored more Premier League goals this season than in his previous four campaigns combined!
That stat alone justifies his presence in this list as many of the Dream Team managers who previously wouldn't have given him a second thought have transferred him into their XIs in recent months.
Only five players have netted more than Almiron's 11 league goals and he's among the eleven midfielders with a century of points to their names.
And like Mitoma, he's done it without European fixtures.
A pair of red cards have checked the five-time Champions League winner's progress of late but in the context of the whole season he deserves plenty of praise.
He too is among the select group of midfielders on 100+ points having provided superb value-for-money from the get-go.
Casemiro arrived at Manchester United as a decorated, world-class player but the reason his success in the world of Dream Team has come as a surprise is because he primarily does the dirty work in midfield.
Defensive anchors are a vital component of any team but, generally speaking, Dream Team gaffers should utilise wingers, playmakers and borderline second strikers when selecting their midfield.
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Old Trafford's new favourite Brazilian has improved the solidity of Erik ten Hag's side but he's also chipped in with ten goal involvements (five goals, five assists).
Of course, he's now got to serve a four-game domestic suspension so his backers will need to find a replacement.
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