Fantasy Premier League 18/19: Budget Defense Options

Fantasy Premier League 18/19: Budget Defense Options
Tom Lumb
Tom Lumb
August 2, 2018
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A lifelong Birmingham City fan, Tom relocated to Germany for five years after graduating from university, where his interest in the Bundesliga developed. He began writing about and betting on German football for FST in 2016. He's also an avid fantasy football player and closely follows the Premier League and European competitions.

Sometimes written off as permanent bench warmers or last resort options in times of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) desperation, the fourth and fifth defenders often get neglected due to FPL managers’ tendencies to play more offensive 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations. Defenders also tend to be the position in which cuts are made to free up some of the £100m budget to spend elsewhere.

Naturally, the lower the price of an FPL defender, the fewer points that player is expected to earn, whether that be by a lack of ability or game-time. However, some players may be undervalued compared to their potential and may even over-perform under favourable circumstances, ie, by finding form over a series of softer fixtures.

In the third edition of FST’s Fantasy Premier League 18/19 Budget Option series, we aim to analyse and rank some of the cheaper defenders in the game, targeting those that should be the best in their price bracket. As most premium defenders come in at around £5.5m or more, our price-cap for this article will be set to £5.0m.

With that being said, here are a few FPL budget defenders for you to have a think about!

Read More: FPL 18/19 Budget Midfielder Options

Ben Mee (£5.0m, Burnley)

Total FPL Points in 2017/18: 90
Opening Fixtures: Southampton (A), Watford (H), Fulham (A), Man Utd (H), Wolves (A)
Non-Starter Risk: Low

If you want an all-round FPL defender at the upper end of “budget”, Burnley’s Ben Mee looks a fantastic option. Not only does he have a strong prospect of clean sheets in Sean Dyche’s well-drilled defense – their 12 clean sheets last season was only bettered by top six teams – but he’s also a major threat from set-pieces. Though he didn’t score in the 17/18 Premier League campaign, Mee’s 18 shots inside the box ranked second only to Brighton’s Shane Duffy (22) among all FPL defenders. Burnley’s favourable opening schedule – six of their first eight are rated two in the Fixture Difficulty Ranking (FDR) – only boosts his potential.

Budget Defender Rating: 8/10

Dejan Lovren (£5.0m, Liverpool)

Dejan Lovren against Harry Kane in Tottenham's 4-1 win over Liverpool

Total FPL Points in 2017/18: 110
Opening Fixtures: West Ham (H), Crystal Palace (A), Brighton (H), Leicester (A), Spurs (A)
Non-Starter Risk: Low

Dejan Lovren is essentially a budget Virgil van Dijk in FPL. Lovren owners can expect equal (aerial) goal threat from set pieces, clean sheets, and bonus points as VVD owners. Coming into the new season off the back of Champions League and World Cup finals, he’ll be full of confidence – well, he has already claimed to be one of the best defenders in the world. As a “nailed on” CB option at a top four Premier League club that has a potential goal or two in him, £5m is just exceptional value for the Croatian.

Budget Defender Rating: 8/10

Read More: FPL 18/19 Budget Forward Options

James Tomkins (£4.5m, Crystal Palace)

Total FPL Points in 2017/18: 99
Opening Fixtures: Fulham (A), Liverpool (H), Watford (A), Southampton (H), Huddersfield (A)
Non-Starter Risk: Low

James Tomkins is Crystal Palace’s most popular FPL defender at the time of writing, and for good reason too. Tomkins finished last season on a high, returning two goals and four clean sheets over Palace’s last eight matches, and at £4.5m, he is cheaper than his defensive team-mates Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) and Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m). The Eagles are another team with a very favourable opening to the 18/19 campaign – just one of their first nine outings scores higher than three in the FDR – and his potential to provide goals and clean sheets over those matches are second to none in that price-range.

Budget Defender Rating: 9/10

Lewis Dunk (£4.5m, Brighton)

Brighton Lewis Dunk vs Huddersfield

Total FPL Points in 2017/18: 97
Opening Fixtures: Watford (A), Man Utd (H), Liverpool (A), Fulham (H), Southampton (A)
Non-Starter Risk: Low

Lewis Dunk finished last season with just 97 points despite playing all 38 games. On the surface, his returns seem all but mediocre. However, Dunk was subject to a huge statistical anomaly by scoring a total of FOUR own goals. Working backwards, without these Dunk would have ended the season with 109 points, which would have made him the best £4.5 defender and just 7 points short of top £5.0m rated defender Lascelles (116 points). As with many towering CBs, he’s often a threat from set pieces, and with Brighton strengthening their defense over the summer, he might be able to better last season’s 10 clean sheets.

Budget Defender Rating: 7/10

Cedric Soares (£4.5m, Southampton)

Total FPL Points in 2017/18: 85
Opening Fixtures: Burnley (H), Everton (A), Leicester (H), Crystal Palace (A), Brighton (H)
Non-Starter Risk: Low

Cedric’s FPL potential has been transformed by a positional change under Southampton manager Mark Hughes. He now plays a much more offensive role as a RWB in a 3-4-2-1 formation as opposed to his more defensive role in a back four under Mauricio Pellegrino. All three of his assists last season came over The Saints’ final eight outings under Hughes and his 28 successful crosses from open play were more than any FPL defender in 2017/18. He is a very tempting option at £4.5m, especially given Southampton’s reasonable opening fixtures.

Budget Defender Rating: 7/10

Read More: Should Mo Salah be an essential player in every FPL team?

Kiko Femenia (£4.5m, Watford)

Watford Kiko Femenia vs Tottenham Son

Total FPL Points in 2017/18: 65
Opening Fixtures: Brighton (H), Burnley (A), Crystal Palace (H), Spurs (H), Man Utd (H)
Non-Starter Risk: Medium

Though Kiko Femenia will be competing for the RB spot against Janmaat (£5.0m) and Marc Navarro (£4.5m) going into the new season, he could become a huge FPL asset if he comes out on top. He is a very attack-minded defender, even being used as a right winger at some point last term when Gerard Deulofeu was sidelined. Watford had a few defensive issues under former-boss Marco Silva, but should Javi Gracia be able to iron out some of the creases, his increased clean sheet potential would see him well worth the £4.5m investment.

Budget Defender Rating: 4/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.0m, Crystal Palace)

Total FPL Points in 2017/18: 15
Opening Fixtures: Fulham (A), Liverpool (H), Watford (A), Southampton (H), Huddersfield (A)
Non-Starter Risk: Medium

Crystal Palace’s Wan-Bissaka looks one of the few likely starters at the lowest FPL price tag available, £4.0m. After a few injury issues, he made several impressive starts last season under Roy Hodgson and has featured a lot in pre-season. He’s another defender that tends to get forward so should offer some attacking returns at some stage. Even if he performs poorly over the start of the 18/19 campaign, no money would be wasted on the lowest-value investment possible.

Budget Defender Rating: 7/10

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