You’re probably not totally satisfied with the team that you’ve selected for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) so far. Wondering how to fit all those premium attacking players into your lineup while still having a quality defense to put out each week? This doesn’t have to stress you out if you pay attention. For instance, are you aware that last season nine defenders finished with 150+ points while only eight forwards accomplished the same? Let that sink in for a minute... we can use that knowledge to help spread some of our budget to the defense and earn cheaper points at the back.
Defenders have the benefit of earning points from clean sheets, but keep in mind that in modern football labels are not strict like they were many years ago. Here is another interesting statistic: There were ten defenders with 6+ assists last season. Do you know how many forwards did the same? Nine! Again, there were fewer forwards than defensive players in an attacking stat. It’s not a bad idea to consider this when looking at the prices of players such as the Liverpool fullbacks. Some managers may consider them overly expensive defenders, but I take the perspective that they’re mid-price midfielders who also earn clean sheets.
How about we take a look at some defenders to consider this season, in all price ranges. Maybe you will add some to your lineup before we get started on August 9th.
I don’t have any recommendations at the £4.0m price point, I think that’s a wait and see situation. At the £4.5m level there are some very good options I’d like to mention.
Craig Cathcart (Watford £4.5m)
Not a sexy place to start, but a very safe one. A player who starts almost every game and chips in with a few goals. If you can get two goals and eight clean sheets with sure starts from him at this price you’ve done well.
Maximillian Aarons (Norwich £4.5m)
Part of the Championship Team of the Season, along with Jamal Lewis on the other side. Two goals and six assists are numbers to take notice of, making him a player to watch.
Lewis Dunk (Brighton £4.5m) Safest pick*
This is my recommendation as the safest budget defender to install in your team. Dunk is guaranteed minutes, can pop up with a goal, and has 17 clean sheets combined in the previous two seasons. One to stay in your squad for the entire season.
Rob Holding / Calum Chambers (Arsenal £4.5) Gambler’s pick
If you are the type to take risks, take note that Unai Emery has not bought any defensive cover so far in the summer transfer window. It’s not impossible for one of these players to find himself in the Arsenal team when the season begins. Laurent Koscielny wants to leave, and numbers are low. These players are in less than 0.5% of teams so can be great differentials if they play.
The mid tier range of defenders offers lots of potential. There are some sure starters on big six teams, and some attacking fullbacks on lower table squads.
Willy Boly (Wolves £5.0)
Wolves had one of the greatest seasons ever by a promoted team. Several players shone, and one that was hard to miss was Boly. Eight clean sheets were good, he added four goals to that which was great for his owners.
Ben Davies (Tottenham £5.5)
This one should possibly be the gambler’s pick because Danny Rose is still part of the team. Strong rumors he will be sold means we include Davies, a player who had seven assists and twelve clean sheets a couple seasons ago when he received more solid game time from Mauricio Pochettino.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United £5.5) Safest pick*
Crystal Palace got a bag full of money for the England youth international. Do you think Ashley Young and Diego Dalot will threaten him? I sure don’t. AWB was a budget sensation last season, and you may want to include him even at this price should the United back line improve as expected this season.
Enda Stevens (Sheffield United £5.0) Gambler’s pick
This is for the brave, a defender from a promoted team at an unusual price for someone with his profile. The Blades conceded the fewest goals in the Championship last season, less than a goal per game. Stevens helped himself to four goals and six assists as well, numbers that make the case to support his price. What we need to note is the difference in class in the Premier League, as Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane can give new teams a reality check and Stevens may not get forward like he did last year.
Glamorous names, big teams, set and forget: These are our high expectations forthe players at this price range where you want to get 15 clean sheets, or 8 assists, performance that keeps the points stacking up.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea £6.0)
The Chelsea captain should again be a fixture in the Blues’ back line. The temptation was there to name him the safest pick, but with a new manager let’s be a little cautious.
Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City £6.5)
Pep Guardiola is known to make fantasy managers nervous when lineups are released. Laporte is the defender most likely to be included every week though, and helped us to the tune of 18 clean sheets last season. He even sprinkled in some goals and assists, what’s not to love?
Andrew Robertson (Liverpool £7.0) Safest pick*
Can we expect a repeat of last season for the Liverpool fullback? I can’t answer that question, but 12 assists and 21 clean sheets was an exceptional combo. What we can expect is that the Scotland captain will play all the minutes he wants while bombing down the left flank. There is no challenge to his minutes, and Salah, Mane, Firmino are still the front three he will be supplying. He is as set and forget as you can be.
Ricardo Pereira (Leicester £6.0) Gambler’s pick
Regular readers know this is a player I’m fond of, having picked him last summer to be the breakthrough player of the season. He did very well and made me proud, so why do I think he’s a gamble now, you might ask? Harry Maguire might be on the move, Brendan Rodgers may focus on attacking more, and who knows what will happen defensively for the Foxes.
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There you have it, my list of defenders to watch for the season. I’ll even include a tip: get the safe picks in your squad and rotate your other two spots. Drop the names of your defenders in the comments below.