With little over a week until the start of the new Premier League season, Goal takes a look at the defenders you should be considering for your Fantasy Football team
The perfect Fantasy Football defenders are usually double threats: part of a solid defensive unit that can collect clean sheets, but also capable of scoring and assisting too. That naturally makes attacking full-backs the most desirable, and Everton’s Leighton Baines (7.0) is perhaps the most adventurous, and highest points-scoring, defender in the Premier League.
But that comes at a premium, and the 28-year-old is the single most expensive defender in the game. Last term, the Toffees conceded only 40 goals – the fourth-best record in the division – and kept 11 clean sheets, while Baines, partly as a result of being the club’s penalty and set-piece taker, scored or created 12 goals. It’s hard to envisage any defender overtaking his points return this coming season.
Baines’ team-mate, Seamus Coleman (4.5) perhaps represents the best value of any defender. Not only is he cheap, but he provided five assists last season from just 24 appearances – the joint-third best among defenders. A sustained run in the team, coupled with his ability to play as a wing-back should Roberto Martinez employ three at the back (which saw Jean Beausejour pick up seven assists last term), makes him very attractive.
Defeated FA Cup finalists Manchester City boasted the best defensive record in English football’s top flight last season, registering a monstrous 18 clean sheets, and will no longer be subject to the unpredictable rotation of axed boss Roberto Mancini.
Any of City’s back four would be sound investments, though none, even adventurous right-back Pablo Zabaleta (6.0), have been particularly prolific in recent years; the Argentine scored or created four goals last season, though could be granted greater freedom under Manuel Pellegrini. Matija Nastasic (5.5) is the cheapest of City’s probable starting backline, but has been ruled out for six to eight weeks with an ankle injury.
Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen (6.5), similarly, is facing a race against time to be fit for Spurs’ opening game against Crystal Palace after being stretchered off the field in Hong Kong, but brings real goalscoring potential. The Belgian scored four times in 34 appearances during his maiden Premier League campaign.
Branislav Ivanovic (6.5), alongside Baines, was the joint-top goalscoring defender last season, notching five times. The Serbian started more games at centre-back than right-back under Rafa Benitez, but could be moved back to the flank under new Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, providing more opportunity to bomb forward. The 29-year-old has proven particularly adept at converting Juan Mata’s pin-point set-pieces – something the ‘Special One’ will look to exploit further.
Manchester United’s Patrice Evra (6.5) was in fine form last season, scoring or assisting nine goals, though, at 32 years of age, may be unable to maintain what was his most productive season to date. With Rafael (5.5) still suspended for after picking up a red card at the end of last season, Phil Jones (5.0) could be a wise, if short-term, pick-up.
Liverpool full-backs Glen Johnson (5.5) and Jose Enrique (5.0) offer a lot of value, with Brendan Rodgers asking the pair to push high up the pitch and overlap, providing lots of opportunities to earn points. Arsenal’s backline options should not be overlooked either, with the Gunners recording seven clean sheets from February onwards; Laurent Koscielny (5.0) is probably the pick of the bunch.
Lower down the table, Cardiff new-boy Steven Caulker (4.5) is very attractive, having scored or assisted four goals in just 17 starts last season with Tottenham. Matthew Lowton (4.5), likewise, is another useful option with one goal and three assists in his last eight appearances for Aston Villa.
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