With Euro 2016 coming to a close, our focus is shifted once again to the English Premier League. In our opening player tips article, NaturalFootyFan is on hand to pick out the best 5.0m defenders for the official Fantasy Premier League game.
Something which is often overlooked, but absolutely fundamental in FPL, is deciding on your defensive fillers. Although they might play a bit-part role in your season, it’s vital that they are up to the job when the opportunity presents itself (Injuries/Rotation etc.)
FPL varies massively in terms of how people structure their defence, however, there is always room, or more realistically a gap needing plugged, in which a cheaper option is best suited for the job. Many competitors will splash out on at least one premium defender in the 5.5-6.5m price bracket, which opens the door for your 5m defender(s) to make an inclusion.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to spend time on these picks. Yes, there is a lot more excitement surrounding the new signings and the offensive buys, however, that’s the reason why you should research your bargain defenders so intently. Your competition will lose their train of thought with the big names, so take advantage of this and outshine them with your defensive knowledge.
So let’s get stuck into the main objective of this article, which is to help you locate The Best 5.0m Defenders for Fantasy Premier League 2016/17.
Opening Fixtures: Burnley (a), Hull (H), Leicester (a)
Ashley Williams is captain for his club and country and has the potential to be a rock-solid addition to your Fantasy Premier League team. The 31-year-old bagged even more bonus-points (24) than Charlie Daniels (20) last season, which is a huge positive moving into the new season.
Despite frequent managerial changes, Swansea continue with a possession based strategy, and with their first two fixtures against newly promoted sides, they should dominate on both occasions.
Alongside his Welsh teammate Neil Taylor, Williams will return late to pre-season following his country’s journey in the Euros. This should not be a problem, and we’re fairly certain that he’ll slot straight back into the starting XI.
Opening Fixtures: Man United (H), West Ham (a), Crystal Palace (a)
He’s on penalties!! That was the first thing that sprung to mind in preparation for the 2015/16 season, however the lanky left-back proved instrumental in all areas.
Charlie Daniels tallied 20 bonus-points throughout the season due to his all-action style. He tackled and intercepted well, rarely picked up bookings and contributed heavily to Bournemouth’s attacking moves with five assists and three goals to his name.
More of the same is to be expected, along with a more confident player and team during their second season in the top flight. Some tough games are on the horizon, but from Gameweek 3 to 12, The Cherries have fantastic fixtures.
Opening Fixtures: Everton (a), Crystal Palace (H), Liverpool (H)
Another defender who caught our eye, in the 5m bracket, was Kevin Wimmer. The Spurs centre-half should fill in for Jan Vertonghen for the first few weeks of the season after his skipper tore his ankle ligaments during Euro 2016.
Although there’s a possibility of Eric Dier moving back into the heart of defence, this is a very unlikely outcome with the Englishman’s stellar progress at defensive midfield. The fact that Wimmer is naturally left-footed, just like Vertonghen, is further justification that he should partner Alderweireld at centre-back.
Tottenham don’t have the easiest of opening fixtures. They face both Merseyside clubs, with a tough encounter versus a bolstered Palace squad in-between. Wimmer doesn’t offer much of a threat going forward and hasn’t scored a goal since 2013, but he didn’t put a foot wrong when the opportunity presented itself last season, and we expect him to step up to the plate once again.
Patrick Van Aanholt
Opening Fixtures: Man City (a), Middlesbrough (H), Southampton (a)
The marauding left-back scored more goals than any defender in the Premier League last season, which is a reason in itself to consider him for your squad. Combine this with Sam Allardyce’s stubborn approach, as long as he dosen’t take charge of England’s national side, and your onto a winner.
Before Big Sam took charge in October The Black Cats had failed to secure a single win, let alone a clean sheet, so it’s clear to see that he’s got them organised more effectively.
Although Sunderland secured just six clean sheets in the 2015/16 campaign, Van Aanholt, being a bonus-points magnet, ranked inside the top 15 for total points scored in the defender category (all prices included).
Opening Fixtures: Tottenham (H), West Brom (a), Stoke (H)
Conflicting opinions was the story of 2015/16 for John Stones. Many football fans and pundits openly support his cultured style of play of building from the back and taking big risks in an attempt to cut through midfield lines when transitioning. On the other hand, some feel his decision-making is questionable at times. Paul Merson even described his positional play as “atrocious”… but honestly who even listens to him nowadays!
We’re yet to see how Koeman prefers to set out his defence, however, with his personal experience of pulling the strings from a deep position, we wouldn’t be surprised if Stones is the Dutchman’s first choice centre-back for The Toffees.
Opening Fixtures: Arsenal (a), Burnley (a), Tottenham (a)
We have not made a mistake… Liverpool begin the season with three away matches on the bounce. They have been handed perhaps the toughest opening fixtures, and Leicester (H) and Chelsea (a) following the three above, further complicates matters.
Nevertheless, Jurgen Klopp sides often turn on the heat in these encounters. Last season their backline managed to bank clean sheets versus Arsenal, Tottenham, Leicester, Man City and Everton – a sign they can perform when it matters.
Alberto Moreno is the standout candidate to make the cut, taking his price and attacking potential into account. In the 2015/16 Premier League season, the Spaniard recorded a goal and four assists, along with attempting 1.1 shots and making 1.9 key passes per game on average.
Opening Fixtures: Watford (H), Man United (a), Sunderland (H)
The Saints fullback returns as a European Championship winner, having played an important role in Portugal’s success. Often labelled as rash, he showed another side to his game in the tournament with a handful of collected performances.
Last season he was thwarted in his efforts to nail down a starting berth with Cuco Martina impressing, nevertheless, having displayed his skill-set on the International stage, Southampton’s new manager Claude Puel will definitely have taken note.
Opening Fixtures: Hull (a), Swansea (H), Arsenal (H)
The Premier League winner in 2015/16 is a similar type of defender to Ashley Williams in that he leads by example, captains his club (often means nailed-on) and chips in with a goal or two each season.
He was pivotal in Leicester’s title claim, but this doesn’t always deliver the goods FPL wise. Yes he was colossal in his defensive play, however, with just five bonus-points to his name, there is better options in the 5.0m price range than Morgan.
Opening Fixtures: Tottenham (H), West Brom (a), Stoke (H)
Everton have a difficult first fixture as they entertain Spurs at Goodison Park, before a couple of matches with improved clean sheet potential versus West Brom and Stoke. Despite this, Funes-Mori proved last season that favourable fixtures aren’t everything for a defender.
The Argentine scored some crucial goals last season vs. Bournemouth, Chelsea and Southampton to capture draws, as well as a goal and an assist to defeat Aston Villa. Only Van Aanholt, from classified defenders, found the net on more occasions than Funes-Mori last season.
Opening Fixtures: Crystal Palace (a), Everton (H), Middlesbrough (H)
As long as Tony Pulis is in charge it will always be a smart idea to back a West Brom defender. Craig Dawson was very popular in FPL last season because of his susceptibility to pick up clean sheets and the odd goal now and again.
He scored four times during the 2015/16 Premier League campaign, and has the advantage of combining a right-backs (his current position) productivity from crosses, with a centre-backs (his natural position) aerial threat from set-piece situations.
It’s worth noting that Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley are cheaper alternatives in the 4.5m bracket, so expect the pair to feature in our additional article.
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