We’ve previewed the best FPL goalkeeping studs & duds, so let’s preview the best and worst defenders from a Fantasy Premier League perspective.
Studs: He’s back. Nemanja Vidic [7m] returns to action to Captain Manchester United after injury problems limited him to just 500 minutes played last season. If Vidic stays fit, he will be a top 3 fantasy defender, producing around 150+ fantasy points. Vidic scored 10 goals in the three seasons prior to last year, so we estimate another 3-4 this season. Combine that with 10-15 clean sheets and the inevitable bonus points, and he could rival Vincent Kompany [7.5m] for top dog defensive status. Ghosts sit around the campfire and tell Nemanja Vidic stories. Don’t forget that. Yes, Kompany and Vidic are very expensive, and Vidic may be eased into action slowly after a year out on the sidelines, but in form, it doesn’t get better than these two from a premium perspective.
Leighton Baines [7m] is tough to justify at 7m as Everton usually start slowly, but with his set piece duties and ability to generate assists he will be a Top 5 fantasy defensive producer. Something like 2-3 goals and 5-8 assists would be superb, and make Baines worthwhile, though Everton of course don’t keep as many clean sheets as the Top 4 teams do.
Can’t afford to spend 7m on a defender? Fair enough, there are other more moderately priced studs on offer:
- Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny [5.5m] has a calf injury but as a long term prospect, he is well priced. He came on well at the tail end of last season and put in some very solid performances. Of course, teammate Thomas Vermaelen [7m] is a bigger goalscoring threat, but Vermaelen does not offer stud value like Koscielny. As long as Koscielny can keep Mertesacker stuck on the bench, he’ll be good value.
- Staying at the high end, we have Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott [6.5m] coming in 1m cheaper than teammate Vincent Kompany. Mancini has been tinkering with three at the back in pre-season and Lescott is always a danger to suffer from rotation, but if he remains a regular he should rack up the points at a slight discount to Kompany. Kompany is the bigger stud with assured starts – he is City’s captain after all.
- At the bargain end of the basement we have a few potential starters in the 4m range. West Ham’s George McCartney [4m] is a potential cheap contributor should he earn a starting role, as is Southampton’s Nathan Clyne [4m]. Both are studs as 5th defenders with regular starting roles.
- In the mid-priced range we have a few “oldies but goodies” that fantasy managers will be relying on for goals and bonus points to make them worthwhile as studs. Ryan Shawcross [5m] at Stoke and Brede Hangeland [5m] at Fulham are both players that you can count on for 7-10 clean sheets, but more importantly, that you can count on for goals and bonus points to make the 5m investment pay off. Without the goals and bonus points they are 4.5m players, but the added attacking attributes usually pay off. You can’t really go wrong when fixtures are good.
- Chelsea’s Ashley Cole [6.5m] and Branislav Ivanovic [6.5m] don’t score often, but they are the regular starting wide players on a Top 4 team, so at 6.5m they could provide value for decent stretches – especially at the start of the season with Chelsea’s double gameweek.
- Baines, Vidic, and Kompany may be potential studs – but there are a few expensive duds as well that one should avoid. Let’s start with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra [7m]. The French left back is a superb “real life” player but at 7m he won’t outscore a healthy Vidic or Baines and probably won’t outscore Cole or Ivanovic (both of which are 0.5m cheaper) significantly. Pass on Pat.
- Manchester United’s troublesome right back situation is also a cause for concern. While Rafael [5.5m] would be an absolute stud if guaranteed first team football, the presence of Phil Jones [6m] and even Chris Smalling [5.5m] complicates matters. Jones should start at the beginning of the season but when all three are fit the danger of rotation creeps in. Duds.
- Kyle Walker [6.5m] and Benoit Assou-Ekotto [6.5m] are pretty expensive selections this year on the heels of excellent seasons last time around. We spoke about new signing Jan Vertonghen [6.5m] in our transfer preview a few days ago and he may actually be a better option than the two aforementioned duds – as he provides a goalscoring threat. 10 goals for Ajax last season. All three are expensive, and while I expect Walker to score and assist well under AVB, his price may just be 0.5m too high. Stud/dud fence for me.
- Jose Enrique [6m] is another player who benefitted from a great season last year. The Liverpool left back provides a nice attacking option on the wing and will get his fair share of assists, but at 6m, he’s also on the stud/dud fence. Coming over from Newcastle last season he was dirt cheap at 5m, and at 5.5m I think he is surely a “Stud,” but in the 6m range, he’s not likely to produce many more points than the aforementioned Shawcross or Hangeland – and they’ll save you 1m in the process. Enrique’s teammate Martin Skrtel [6m] – the inventor of dyslexia, is also on the stud/dud fence.
- Richards / Zabaleta / Clichy / Kolarov / Savic: It’s very dangerous to select Manchester City defenders not named Kompany unless you can guarantee their playing time through their rival’s injury [see Zabaleta vs Kompany last year or inpre-season]. These guys are rotated match to match. Clichy and Richards, you would think, would have the upper hand if all were fit, but Zabaleta and Kolarov are also used frequently. For the most part, fantasy managers should stay away from the rotational headaches and focus their efforts elsewhere.
- Defenders that don’t reeve playing time: Why carry Kolo Toure on your fantasy football team? Sure he’s just 5.5m, but he doesn’t play. The same goes for a 4m or 4.5m rated player. Waste of space. You may be from Switzerland but you should pass on Arsenal’s Djourou even at 5m. Same goes for Liverpool’s 5m rated Coates if you are from Uruguay. It’s nice to have some allegiance to your home nation, but we’re playing to win here, not for national pride. Keep that in mind and you shall succeed.
There you have it. A look at the best Fantasy Premier League Defenders for the 2012/2013 season.
Good luck to all fantasy managers.