Fantasy Premier League 2015/16- Defenders

In a game where the most expensive players operate in the midfield and forward areas, it is easy to neglect the defence. While this can pay off for you in a goal-scoring capacity, it can also potentially cost you a consistent haul of points week to week. This being said, it is also easy to use up too much of your budget with defenders costing as much as £7 million each.

It is important to get the right balance between creating a solid defensive unit without having to compromise the rest of your team. With the top two defenders of last year earning more points than the third best striker and fourth best midfielder, they can definitely make the difference. When choosing defenders it is therefore worthwhile finding people who not only have the potential to keep a clean sheet, but also has the potential to contribute on an attacking basis. Here are just a few defenders who have the potential to make an impact this season.

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea, £7 million)

As one of the highest overall point-scorers of last season (only behind Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez, David Silva and Harry Kane), Branislav Ivanovic will be one of the most sought after players in Fantasy Football this season.

The Chelsea defender had his best season to date last year and his starting value of £7 million represents his achievements. Having 17 clean sheets would make him an appealing addition alone, but when you add in the 4 goals and 6 assists he got on top of that he is difficult to ignore. Together with his fellow Chelsea defender John Terry (also priced at £7 million), Ivanovic will be hoping to do even better this season.

The main concern, other than a hefty price-tag, would be regarding Chelsea’s form this season. Pre-season hasn’t gone particularly well for the club and they lost the Community Shield game against Arsenal. While neither has too much of an impact on the season as a whole, it is certainly not a positive omen for the Premiership champions. In terms of transfers, Chelsea haven’t made an awful lot of changes either so other major teams will be feeling confident that they can close the gap this time around.

This being said, however, Ivanovic is arguably in the peak period of his career being 31 years of age and still has the potential to be a key member of the Chelsea squad. It is therefore simply up to you as to whether you can spare the funds for him or Terry for the upcoming season.

Leighton Baines (Everton, £6.5 million)

Baines

Last season was somewhat disappointing for Leighton Baines, finishing on a comparatively lower 139 points. Bearing in mind he was still able to score 2 goals, get 9 assists and keep 9 clean sheets, this is saying something. The main difference was Everton’s defensive record last season. If Everton can have a better season defensively then Baines could be well on his way to nearing his highly impressive points tallies from recent seasons.

His fellow Everton defender Seamus Coleman also under-performed in comparison to the 2013/14 season but still managed to get a total of 3 goals and 4 assists last year. Coleman is £0.5 cheaper, so may also be worth consideration, but Baines is the main penalty and set-piece taker which is a plus point.

The major issue with the Everton defence, however, is an awful run of games. Following a decent game against Watford, Everton take on Southampton, Manchester City, Spurs and Chelsea. It may be wise, therefore, to hold off for a while.

Matteo Darmian (Manchester United, £5.5 million)

Anyone who gave my post about new arrivals to look out for this season in the Premier League will already be aware of my excitement regarding Matteo Darmian. While there are some defensive concerns regarding De Gea and his future, the new Manchester United right-back is looking to be a great signing.

Arguably since the departure of Gary Neville, United have struggled to fill the right-back role. Antonio Valencia has filled in there in recent seasons but has never looked completely comfortable. Darmian, however, has trained as a right-back and if pre-season is anything to go by he has the potential to make a huge difference.

At just £5.5 million and as a defender for one of the biggest sides in the Premiership, Darmian is automatically a great option to consider. The right-back has also shown that he has the potential to create goals with his overlapping runs on the wing. Darmian is somewhat risky as he is yet to be tested in the Premiership and will have to fight off Valencia for the role, but early signs are promising.

Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool, £5.5 million)

During his time with Southampton, Nathaniel Clyne became one of the highest point-scorers last season courtesy of 13 clean sheets, 2 goals and 2 assists. Now at a Liverpool side that conceded more goals last season, Clyne will be hoping to make an immediate impact.

With a price-tag of £5.5 million, Clyne has already walked into over 40% of Fantasy teams but he may be a slight risk. Liverpool take on Stoke and Bournemouth in their opening two fixtures, two games which they can easily get a clean-sheet in. It is after this that the trouble starts, however, as they face Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United one after the other and all away games are against the bigger sides up to game-week 13.

If you choose to opt with Clyne, therefore, you would have to hope for more on the attacking front as clean sheets will be more difficult to come by.

Hector Bellerin (Arsenal, £5.5 million)

Arsenal have been crying out in recent seasons for a top-class goalkeeper and this season they finally have one in the form of Petr Cech. Following the addition of the ex-Chelsea man, the Arsenal defence is already looking a lot more secure and Arsenal defenders far more tempting.

Based on the TSB%, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are the Arsenal defenders that most are opting with probably due to their points haul last season. At £5.5 million, Mertesacker could potentially be a great choice but for the same price I would go with the slightly riskier Hector Bellerin.

Bellerin made his break into the Arsenal first-team towards the end of last season due to the injury to Mathieu Debuchy. He certainly took the opportunity with both hands and even managed to score 2 goals and get an assist in the process. With his wicked pace and eagerness to get forward, Bellerin has the potential to get involved extensively in Arsenal’s attacking plays. With Debuchy now back from injury there is the risk of rotation but I feel that Bellerin has the greater potential to be a hit for the Gunners.

Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle United, £5 million)

Daryl Janmaat had a great first season in the Premier League last season with Newcastle and will be looking to continue where he left off. Having got 1 goal and 8 assists, it was only Newcastle’s defensive record that stopped him from being up with the very best of last season.

At £5 million he is amongst the most affordable and with Steve McClaren now at the helm there is the increased potential for the Magpies to sure things up at the back. Newcastle now also have more attacking options in the form of  Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic meaning there is more potential for defenders such as Janmaat to increase his assist tally even further.

Cedric Soares (Southampton, £5 million)

Southampton had the second best defensive record in the league last season, conceding only 33 goals in 38 matches. The departure of Nathaniel Clyne and Toby Alderweireld, together with the current injury to Ryan Bertrand, has meant that Ronald Koeman has had to invest in his back-line. One of his signings, and one of the stand-out members of the squad is Cedric Soares.

Soares is Clyne’s replacement for the upcoming season at right-back and is one who has similar potential to assist in the final third. The defender was also a key member of the Sporting Lisbon squad that conceded only 29 goals last season. All signs are pointing towards Soares being a handy signing for the side.

Not only that, Southampton’s opening fixtures are highly favourable. Playing only three of last season’s top seven in their opening 13 gameweeks, it would seem to be a good idea to have someone from their defence in your ranks. With the likes of Jose Fonte and Steven Caulker both at £5.5 million Cedric seems to be a great choice at only £5 million.

Joel Ward (Crystal Palace, £4.5 million)

Joel-Ward

In an ideal world we would be able to make teams full of defenders from the top teams without having to compromise the rest of our squad. This is unfortunately not the case, however, and as a result you will probably have to find some cheaper alternatives from smaller teams who still have the potential to earn points.

One of the cheaper defenders that I am currently edging towards is Joel Ward. At £4.5 million he is amongst the most affordable but last season he only managed to get 7 clean sheets and a single goal. The season before, however, was a little more promising with 12 clean sheets and 3 assists.

With a budget of £4.5 million you are never going to find someone prolific. Crystal palace, however, have the potential to be the surprise package this season and Ward is one of their main starters. The side has strengthened with the addition of Patrick Bamford and Yohan Cabaye and hopefully this will ease the pressure on the defence. It will admittedly be difficult in the first few game-weeks as the side take on Arsenal and then Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs one after the other. It may be worth taking a punt on them for two of the first three game-weeks, however, as they face Norwich and Aston Villa.

Review

If you want a defence made up of players who are also capable of scoring and assisting goals, it is incredibly easy to spend a fair chunk of your budget. It is no longer enough to simply keep a clean sheet in the Fantasy game and even the best teams are liable to letting in a late goal. Goals and assists coming from defenders therefore can make all the difference.

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