The Best 4.5m Defenders For Fantasy Premier League 17/18
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The official Fantasy Premier League game has been live for a couple of days now, giving @NaturalFootyFan plenty of time to navigate the player lists and pick out some potential bargains.
Kicking off our player tips for the 2017/18 season, it feels right to start with the defence. Premium options such as James Milner, Marcos Alonso and, more recently, Kieran Trippier are stealing the headlines. However, I’ve decided to steer away from recycled, often self-explanatory, comparisons and instead raise awareness of their cheaper counterparts.
The focus revolves around the 4.5m price bracket, where I’ve set the criteria expected of a player of this value and done my best to answer the questions at hand.
Jamaal Lascelles (NEW)
Rafa Benitez appointed him captain at just 22 years old ahead of Newcastle’s 2016/17 campaign saying “Jamaal has proven himself to be a leader and a big personality in the dressing room and on the pitch.”
It’s safe to say that he’s repaid his manager’s faith, rallying the squad, leading by example and eventually winning the title. He captained the side in their first pre-season friendly and should be one of the first names on the team sheet.
Lascelles started 41 matches for his club last season, so you’ve got to think that, barring a drastic drop in form during pre-season, new signing Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark and Chancel Mbemba will battle it out to play alongside him.
Clean Sheet Potential:
Out of the newly promoted clubs, Newcastle and Brighton are neck and neck, with both sides conceding just 40 times in the Championship last season. Compare this with Huddersfield’s 58 goals conceded and it’s safe to say they were a level above at that standard.
Lascelles couldn’t have asked for better opening fixtures. Once they get Tottenham out of the way in Gameweek 1, Newcastle have a kind run of games; HUD (a), WHU (H), SWA (a), STK (H) and BRI (a).
It’s also worth mentioning that The Toon have secured more clean sheets on the road (11) than at St James Park (8) last season. This is irregular, and could become a headache when trying to find the right time to start a player in FPL, but a positive nonetheless.
To be honest, he’s not going to rack up goals or assists, but Lascelles is undeniably an aerial threat. At 6ft 2 and a bit of a unit, he’s a constant presence in the oppositions box, nicking three goals and two assists last season.
Bonus Point Potential:
Recording an average pass completion of 84.5% and 8.5 clearances per game throughout the 2016/17 campaign, he has a good chance of ranking high in the BPS system, although he does lack in his average number of tackles (0.7) and interceptions (1.1) per match.
For comparison, bonus points specialist Eric Bailly made an average of 2.4 tackles, 2.4 interceptions, but as expected playing for a top side, just five clearances. His discipline is another positive towards bonus point returns with just one yellow card in 18 Premier League appearances.
Lascelles has featured in about 75% of my first drafts; by ‘first drafts’ I mean about 47 attempts of settling on a squad. That’s a high percentage, in comparison to the remainder of my picks, so all in all I have a good feeling about the centre-half and his favourable opening fixtures.
At the moment he is my first choice Newcastle defender with Paul Dummett and DeAndre Yedlin playing second fiddle at 4.5m. The reasons I favour Lascelles is that central defenders, and captains in particular, are rarely rotated. This means less time and effort trying to reshuffle your squad or waste a transfer which could be used in more important areas.
Paul Dummett is limited offensively, having gone the whole of last season without a goal or assist, despite playing the most minutes of any Newcastle player. While Yedlin, who will not be handed the same freedom to bomb forward, comes in at right back for the departing Anita. It’s unclear whether he will remain first choice by Gameweek 1… and I can say from experience a non-starting/rotating 4.5m defender is the last thing you want to be dealing with.
Lewis Dunk (BHA)
Dunk starts every match he’s available for with 119 Championship appearances since 2014. He’s the first name on the teamsheet along with goalkeeper Stockdale and star man Anthony Knockaert.
Clean Sheet Potential:
Just like Lascelles, Brighton’s opening fixture (Man City away) is a bad one – perhaps the worst fixture available in their 38-match schedule. Though this is followed up with five reasonable fixtures; LEI (a), WAT (a), WBA (H), BOU (a) and NEW (H).
Brighton are notably stronger on home soil with 14 of their impressive 23 clean sheets coming at The Amex Stadium, so Gameweek 4 vs. West Brom and Gameweek 6 vs. Newcastle are your best bets for a defensive output.
The towering centre-back literally looks down on his opposition and is a well established goal-scorer, finding the net 13 times in the last three seasons (2014/15: 7, 2015/16: 4, 2016/17: 2).
Bonus Point Potential:
This is where I think Dunk can flourish. He reads the game very well and similar to Ake, who picked up bonus points for fun at Bournemouth, will benefit from his 3 interceptions and 7.2 clearances per game last season.
Although a word of warning, and the only thing that is likely to dent his BPS totals, is his susceptibility to pick up yellow cards. Dunk has been cautioned 38 times in 164 Championship appearances, but it’s last season’s 12 yellows which is worrying. I suppose 11 less matches in the EPL is a good start!
If you plan to fill out your forward line with Lukaku, Kane and another big-hitter, then chances are you’ll need to field two 4.5m defenders to avoid completely weakening your midfield.
With rotation in mind, a cheap Crystal Palace defender is a good way to sidestep Brighton’s opening fixture versus Man City. Palace host Huddersfield in Gameweek 1, so it’s worth keeping tabs on Tomkins, Kelly and Delaney in pre-season.
If you have 0.5m spare, Dann is obviously a better option to rotate with, and I would mention Van Aanholt, but in my opinion, Trippier and Lindelof are better value and non-rotatable.
Ben Mee (BUR)
He was nailed on throughout last season, and that was alongside Michael Keane, so he’s definitely going to be first or second choice, regardless of Sean Dyche’s decision to trust Kevin Long or James Tarkowski or else search the market for a Keane replacement.
Clean Sheet Potential:
Sean Dyche is a manager who relies on his defence to dig out important results. Despite ending the season in 16th, Burnley ranked 11th for goals conceded last season, most notably keeping clean sheets against Liverpool, Man United and Southampton.
They rarely concede more than a couple of goals, so a reduction in minus points if things don’t go to plan is a bonus. They lost by a single goal on 12 occasions last season, which is a good example of the small margins between a result for them and your Fantasy Football team.
First of all, Ben Mee’s solitary goal in 34 Premier League appearances last season was disappointing. He came off the back of two goals and an assist in each of his previous seasons, one in the Championship and one in the Premier League.
Don’t be expecting anything spectacular. He’ll chip in with the odd goal or assist from a corner etc. but his prime focus is to plug the gap left by Michael Keane and help out at his own end of the park.
Bonus Point Potential:
Ben Mee banked six bonus points last season, which is just four less than ex-centre-back partner Michael Keane, despite playing 134 minutes less. Nothing special, but he keeps the BPS system ticking over with an average of 2.1 interceptions and a productive 8.8 clearances per game last season.
He also managed to cut down his yellow card tally from 10 in 2014/15, to five in 2016/17.
As we learnt from the 2016/17 season, Tom Heaton was the Burnley man for your backline in FPL. However, the Englishman’s price has been bumped up to 5m, so Ben Mee is your best budget option left.
Burnley’s fixture list looks daunting at first glance, however, if you concentrate on the home fixtures; WBA, CRY, HUD and WHM sandwiched between trips to CHE, TOT, LIV, EVE and MCI, there’s a lot of hidden potential.
The perfect rotation for Burnley/Mee is a West Brom defender, which is visually represented in the table above. Tony Pulis’ side is built upon a strong defensive foundation and, when using a home rotation with Brighton, you will always have a dependable source for a clean sheet.
As you may or may not know. The Fplbet team recently created FFMAG, the world’s first FPL magazine. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the magazine will now be released monthly throughout the 17/18 season. If you’re an FPL fanatic, then this magazine is perfect for you. Gift yourself a subscription and support an independent publication in the process. Win, win!
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