With the new season inching closer, Goal takes a look at the best defenders available to virtual coaches, including some bargain buys
Fantasy football managers across the world are counting the days until the 2017-18 Premier League campaign kicks off and they will be mulling over who to pick in their squad until then.
Our very own Goal Fantasy Football is already up and running — and it’s free to play. The mobile app can be downloaded through this link so that you can create and update your squad wherever you are.
The Fantasy Premier League game on the Premier League’s official website is also a popular choice for fantasy managers, but whatever game you use, we’ve taken a look at some of the best fantasy football defenders, including a few bargains, to help get you started!
BEST FANTASY FOOTBALL DEFENDERS
Though they came second to Tottenham in the goals-against column, Chelsea’s backline dominated the top five top-scoring defenders in last season’s fantasy Premier League.
Gary Cahill scored the highest with 178 points, with Marcos Alonso following close behind on 177, while Cesar Azpilicueta accumulated 170 points. Kyle Walker, who recently joined Manchester City from Tottenham, was the next highest with 142 points, while Liverpool’s makeshift left-back James Milner scored 139.
When considering defenders in fantasy football it is important to look not only at the player’s defensive attributes, such as keeping clean sheets, but also the amount of goals and assists they pick up throughout the season. For this reason, full-backs are usually the best choice, with top-scoring Gary Cahill representing an anomaly in the top five as the only out and out centre back.
|Kyle Walker||Man City||£6.5m|
Marcos Alonso (Chelsea – £7m)
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea comfortably cruised to Premier League glory and they did so using a fresh 3-4-3 formation, with wing-backs. Marcos Alonso was one of those wing-backs and the former Fiorentina man did a tremendous job, scoring six goals and laying on three more.
Should Conte persist with his tried and tested tactics in the face of new challenges this season, Alonso, who is the most expensive defender in the official game, will be one of the key components and the 26-year-old should only improve in his second season.
Gary Cahill (Chelsea – £6.5m)
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill was the only centre-back in the top five scoring defenders in fantasy football last season and the reason for that was his ability to score goals. The England international found the back of the net six times for the London outfit – a personal best for him in the Premier League.
It seems unlikely that Cahill will score as many in the upcoming season, but the 31-year-old does have the capacity to get goals, having scored at least once in each of the last 10 Premier League campaigns.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea – £6.5m)
Usually a full-back, Cesar Azpilicueta was deployed mainly as part of a back three at Chelsea last season, meaning he did not have as much of an opportunity to get forward as he would have in previous seasons, but he still managed to chip in with more assists than wing-back Marcos Alonso (4) and a goal in the Blues’ successful Premier League campaign.
The Spain international may face competition from new signing Antonio Rudiger (£6m) but should he continue his partnership with David Luiz and Gary Cahill, he is sure to pick up clean-sheet points.
Kyle Walker (Man City – £6.5m)
Manchester City paid big money to Tottenham for Kyle Walker and Pep Guardiola will expect plenty of returns from the 27-year-old this season. Part of the best defence in the Premier League last term, Walker contributed five assists from full-back and always looked threatening going forward. Outside of Chelsea’s Cahill, Alonso and Azpilicueta, Walker was the best scoring defender in fantasy football last season.
James Milner (Liverpool – £6.5m)
A midfielder by trade, James Milner reinvented himself as an attacking full-back for Liverpool last season and the 31-year-old scored very well in fantasy football (139 points) as he struck seven goals. The former Manchester City man looks set to reprise that role and he will be looking to add more assists to his repertoire after settling into the new defensive position.
Leighton Baines (Everton – £6m)
Everton’s flying full-back Leighton Baines came to prominence under the stewardship of David Moyes and when he stays fully fit, he is almost guaranteed to be among the best scoring defenders in fantasy football. Now 32, Baines’ pace has diminished a little, but he still possesses fearsome dead-ball ability and a nose for goal, having scored a total of 27 over the course of the last nine seasons.
David Luiz (Chelsea – £6m)
Brazil international David Luiz was the lowest scoring of Chelsea’s formidable defence in last season’s fantasy Premier League, but he still managed to make the top 10 defenders overall. The 30-year-old was a key performer and is likely to continue that in his second season under the guidance of Antonio Conte as the Blues attempt to defend their title.
Antonio Valencia (Manchester United – £6.5m)
Having started out as a winger at Old Trafford, Antonio Valencia has evolved into Manchester United’s first-choice right-back as well as one of their most important players in recent seasons. The Ecuador international still possesses explosive pace and his attacking nous means that he is always going to be a threat going forward. He finished last term with just one goal and three assists, but he may be given more licence as Jose Mourinho seeks to improve the team’s win-count.
Danny Rose (Tottenham – £6.5m)
Tottenham left-back Danny Rose missed roughly half of last season through injury and, while Ben Davies deputised admirably in his absence, the England international is rated much more highly. The departure of Kyle Walker to Manchester City leaves a quandary for Mauricio Pochettino and the return of Rose means that the left flank could become a key area of the pitch for Spurs. Despite having his campaign disrupted by injury, Rose scored two and set up two more in 18 league appearances last term, showing his value to the team.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal – £6m)
In Hector Bellerin, Arsenal possess one of the best attacking full-backs in the Premier League and he will be crucial if the Gunners are to atone for their failure to secure Champions League football. The 22-year-old Spaniard has been ever-present in Arsene Wenger’s team since his breakthrough in 2014-15 and brings keen attacking instinct to his role, getting up and down the wing with ease. He teed up four goals last season, scoring one himself.
Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City – TBC)
Pep Guardiola has added Benjamin Mendy to his Manchester City squad ahead of the 2017-18 season, for a world-record fee no less, and the France international arrives in England having turned heads in the red and white of Monaco last season. Mendy supplied eight assists for his team-mates last term and his crossing ability will be an asset to fantasy football managers. His price has yet to be confirmed, but he is likely to be up there with the more expensive options.
BEST BARGAIN DEFENDERS
If careful enough, fantasy football players can cobble together a good defence without spending too much of their budget, freeing up money to be devoted elsewhere in the squad.
Sometimes consistent performers do not see their pricetag increased to reflect their actual worth, while other players can have their value decreased after a single disappointing campaign.
So, if you don’t want to waste funds on the big-name players, we’ve taken a look at some of the better fantasy football defenders that can be picked up for relative bargain fees.
Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool – £5.5m)
Nathaniel Clyne has been a favourite of fantasy football players since his emergence as a Premier League defender at Southampton and the full-back has consistently scored high points totals. He finished just outside the top 10 overall in terms of defenders last year, yet he continues to command a relatively small fee compared to his counterparts.
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton – £5.5m)
Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand has been a consistently high scorer in fantasy football over the last few seasons and, barring injury, he should continue that tradition in 2017-18. At £5.5m he is valued less than players such as Antonio Valencia, Hector Bellerin and Toby Alderweireld, who he scored higher than last year.
Danny Simpson (Leicester – £4.5m)
After their disappointing title-defence last season, many of the Leicester players have dropped significantly in value, but that could be a blessing for fantasy football managers. In particular, Danny Simpson at £4.5m represents a steal. The 30-year-old full-back was not far off the 100-point mark last season and, as with the rest of his team-mates, will be playing with much less pressure on their shoulders this term.
Charlie Daniels (Bournemouth – £5m)
Bournemouth finished ninth in the Premier League last season thanks to the trojan effort of their players and Charlie Daniels was to the fore in that regard. The left-sided player scored four goals for the Cherries and finished the season ahead of the likes of David Luiz, Nathaniel Clyne and Seamus Coleman. It may be a stretch to expect him to repeat that this term, but at £5m he could be worth taking a chance with.
Kieran Trippier (Tottenham – £5.5m)
He spent much of last season in the considerable shadow of Kyle Walker, but Kieran Trippier is primed to become Tottenham’s first-choice right-back if he plays his cards right. The North London club are in hot pursuit of Porto’s Andreas Pereira, but Trippier showed his worth in his few appearances last term. The former Burnley man made just 12 Premier League appearances, half of which were from the bench, yet he provided five assists – the same number as Walker. Should he get the nod, he will be a shrewd addition to any squad.
BEST OF THE REST
We have run through our top picks for defenders in fantasy football, but there are plenty more viable options to consider besides. New Arsenal signing Sead Kolasinac is a £6m defender, while Chelsea’s new addition from Roma, Antonio Rudiger, would command the same fee.
Seasoned performer Vincent Kompany would cost £6m, despite being famously injury-prone, and he is more expensive than his £5.5m-rated team-mates John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov. New Everton defender Michael Keane is valued at a reasonable £5.5m. Keane’s £6.5m rated team-mate Seamus Coleman is normally a fine point-getter, but the Republic of Ireland international is recovering from a broken leg and may take some time to get back up to speed.
Manchester United’s Eric Bailly will set virtual managers back £6m, but new Red Devil Victor Lindelof is slightly cheaper at £5.5m, while left-back Luke Shaw is valued at £5m.
Other potential options include West Brom’s Gareth McAuley (£5m), who finished in the top 10 last season, Crystal Palace full-back Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) and, even though he will miss the first two games of the season, Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny (£6m).