Great expectations, each new season begins full of them. We research data and devise plans in preparation for what lies ahead, while also being alert and ready to adapt to injury or rotation.
Today we will discuss defenders who should provide returns consistently. While goalkeepers accrue save points in addition to earning clean sheets, defenders who chip in with goals and assists can be very valuable.
Let’s have a look at some of the best prospects for the upcoming FPL season.
Premium £6.0 - £6.5
The only place to begin is with the Chelsea man who was the highest scoring defensive player last season. New manager Maurizio Sarri may change things a little at the back as he will surely eschew some of Antonio Conte’s principles, but the Spanish international is as nailed on as it gets. Used mainly as a central defender last season, he managed six assists and led all defenders in bonus points. If he goes back to a wide position he will have even more opportunities to provide crosses.
At the highest end of the price bracket we need someone likely to contribute clean sheets along with other fantasy attributes. The England center-back will return to the right side for City, and it is reasonable to expect a minimum of five assists to go along with those clean sheets.
Virgil van Dijk
Jurgen Klopp was a happy man when this transfer was finally completed, as he should have been. The commanding Dutchman immediately provided extra confidence at the back (which Alisson’s recent signing enhances further), and makes us believe Liverpool will have a solidity this season not seen in years. Van Dijk will be the first defender on the ‘Pool teamsheet each week and is worth the investment. I expect him to add goals this year also.
Ben Davies is a great choice to begin the season, he didn’t go to the World Cup and should be the best Spurs option at the back initially. Belgian Vertonghen is a great bet to start more games in the long term though. Davies and the other fullbacks are always susceptible to rotation by manager Mauricio Pocchetino, something that has fantasy managers nervously waiting for lineups each week. Vertonghen is a great piece-of-mind choice who won’t provide the assists like others but can be among the bonus.
Mid-Tier £5.0 - £5.5
Arsene Wenger is gone. I think this will be a good thing for Arsenal this season. Players will have to start fresh and earn their places under Unai Emery, and Bellerin in particular needed this challenge. His place was assured week in week out, but now a new manager and competition from Stephan Lichtsteiner should prompt him to raise his levels. At his best, Bellerin can be seen rampaging forward and getting into the box. With a clinical finisher such as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in the team ready to finish what he provides, we can expect his assist numbers to climb along with the clean sheets.
I’ll admit, it’s a bit risky including a Manchester United defender here (was tempted to have Seamus Coleman instead), but how can we not have a player from a Jose Mourinho team knowing how defensive they are going to play? This is an opportunity for a comeback season for the Ivorian who was limited by injury last year.
Burnley is always a cheap source of solid defensive points for fantasy managers. Sean Dyche is not one to chop and change lineups too much, and we can pencil Tarkowski in for 34+ starts this season I believe. Europa League may cause some disruption if they make it through to the group stages, but this is a player from whom we can expect ten clean sheets for a good price.
A cheaper alternative to England international Harry Maguire, Chillwell should make the left-back position his own this season. He has provided energetic displays on the left flank and looks certain to provide some assists. The defensive recruitment done by Leicester this season should help increase clean sheets as well, even if Maguire moves on (Should Maguire move to Manchester United, he becomes a must-own worth the extra 0.5).
Low-Budget £4.0 - £4.5
Already selected by more than 15% of fantasy managers, myself included, the Portuguese international looks to be a great value. Assured of starts and, if Mark Hughes plays 5 at the back at some point, he may play further forward. Southampton almost fell out the Premier League last season, and there is loads of room for improvement, so the manager will rely on the experience of those like Cedric to keep the team away from the bottom this season.
Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen
Huddersfield had an impressive debut in the top flight, and several players stood out, none more than the man known as Zanka. He was a force at the back for David Wagner, helping the Terriers with ten clean sheets and three assists. This is a team who will not be changing their style of play anytime soon, which means keeping it tight at the back. A cheap source of clean sheets is a great way to afford high priced players further up the field.
Last season we were delighted to discover so many good defensive options from newly promoted teams. This season, Bamba looks to be one we should be aware of straightaway. He has quality shown by his place in the Championship team of the year. Cardiff are by no means coming to the Premier League to play swashbuckling football, so we may benefit from cheap clean sheets and bonus points by the Ivorian.
You’re looking at your team smiling from ear to ear seeing a front line of Salah, Aubameyang, Aguero and others. It soon turns to despair when you still need a defender and have only 4.0 budget to make it happen. This is when you place your faith in this Crystal Palace defender and hope for the best. He’s been a regular starter in preseason, so we can hope for more of the same when the games count for real.
Keep an eye on...
Seamus Coleman: Let’s see how Marco Silva sets up.
Harry Maguire: Does he get the transfer?
Benjamin Mendy: Will he do more than tweet this year? If he plays then he can be great.
Lewis Dunk: Can Brighton do it again?
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER POSITIONS?
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our player picks ahead of the 2018/19 season for keepers. Which means... coming soon: midfielders and then forwards!
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Who are the defenders taking up the five spots at the back for you? Post them in the comments or tweet them @NMA_Blog or @2cents81 using #NMAback5 and let’s discuss.