We are following up our vote on this season’s top Fantasy Football goalkeeper by looking at the candidates for best defender.
Just as before, we’ve got a poll for you to use in the sidebar or slide-in menu and we’ve also analysed each option in detail in this article.
Before we get started, let’s look at the defenders chosen as last season’s best XI.
Last season’s team:
Goalkeeper – Tom Heaton
Defenders – Marcos Alonso, Gareth McAuley, Seamus Coleman
Midfielders – Dele Alli, Alexis Sanchez, Christian Eriksen, Joshua King
Forwards – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane
Marcos Alonso is the only member of last season’s trio who had a strong follow-up campaign, and he has obviously earned a place on the latest shortlist. For both Gareth McAuley and Seamus Coleman, however, 2017/18 was one to forget.
This time around, West Bromwich Albion’s veteran centre-back and 2016/17’s budget goal-scoring defensive option made just eight appearances as the Baggies were relegated to the Championship. In those matches, he didn’t keep a single clean sheet and was goalless too – unable to match his previous chart-topping tally of six among defenders.
Meanwhile, Coleman made his first appearance of 2017/18 in Gameweek 25 after breaking his leg on international duty last March. In 12 appearances he did manage to pull in one assist and four clean sheets, but missing so much of the campaign meant he was never going to match his previous credentials of four goals, four assists, ten clean sheets and 15 bonus points.
So now let’s look at the nominations that have made our shortlist.
No defender came close to Marcos Alonso’s goal threat in 2017/18. The Spanish wing-back found the net more times than any other defensive option this season with seven goals, improving on last term’s total of six. Bearing in mind he also bagged 13 clean sheets, he was an incredible player to own this year.
Despite his hefty starting price of 7.0, Alonso proved hugely popular because of his attacking positioning at Chelsea. In many ways, it was like having a sixth midfielder for the 26.8% of Fantasy managers who owned him at his peak in late January.
Alonso’s threat as a set-piece taker was highlighted when he scored a brace and 16 FPL points against Spurs in Gameweek 2 but his most productive period was between Gameweeks 17 and 24. During that period he registered a return in each outing, a staggering run of eight matches, which also included three double-figure hauls.
Spurs’ left-back earned a place on this season’s shortlist largely on account of his creative output and budget value.
No defender registered more assists than Ben Davies this season who, in the early part of the campaign, was a popular asset considering Danny Rose’s injury and ill-advised pre-season press interview.
Priced initially at 5.5, Davies filled the gap as the cheapest route into the Spurs defence with aplomb, scoring in the first match of the season and keeping a clean sheet too, the first of his final tally of 12.
In the opening seven weeks, he put up three double-figure hauls, more than any other player in FPL at the time.
Rotation with Rose eventually reared its head, but that didn’t stop Davies ending the season as the fifth-highest scoring defender (143).
From the 29 appearances he made, only Alonso (5.00) was able to beat him for points per match out of the top five scorers in defence (4.93).
Despite Alonso’s latest incredible season, he was still outshone in terms of total points by his Chelsea team-mate Cesar Azpilicueta.
The 28-year-old ended 2017/18 as the top-scoring defender with 175 points and the best value among defenders too.
Azpilicueta became an even more complete Fantasy asset this season, with his link-up with compatriot Alvaro Morata providing six assists. Only the forementioned Davies, Aaron Cresswell and Kieran Trippier recorded more.
Memorably, Azpilicueta was twice the provider for Morata in a 4-0 win at Stoke in Gameweek 4, registering a season-best score of 14 points.
Meanwhile, he was joint-second for clean sheets and played a big role in keeping a total of 15 of them. His ability to impress on both sides of the ball ensured no defender finished the season with more bonus points (25).
Manchester City’s Argentinian centre-back proved incredibly popular this season after receiving a starting price of 5.5.
Grabbing four goals on top of his 15 clean sheets, second only to Antonio Valencia and Jan Vertonghen (both 16), no defender earned more transfers across the campaign (2,808,178).
Those transactions helped him rise out of the mid-range bracket to 6.5 at his peak, ending Gameweek 38 as the highest owned (25.8% ownership).
Otamendi most productive spell saw him grab two goals (against West Ham and at Old Trafford) and four clean sheets between Gameweek 15 and 21, an average of 7.42 points per match.
He was also a huge beneficiary of Pep Guardiola’s possession-based style of play and consequently finished behind only Azpilicueta for bonus points (21).
On Sky Sports Fantasy, he was the highest scoring defender with 244 points, beating Azpilicueta by four.
Harry Maguire was quick to capture the attention of the FPL community after scoring and assisting in the first two Gameweeks.
After that, he garnered popularity for some underlying statistics he had no right to register from centre-back. His swashbuckling style of play took him to 12.9% ownership at his peak in late February and early March.
Despite being tasked with holding down the fort at Leicester City, no defender had more big chances than Maguire (six), apart from Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt (seven).
In fact, only four defensive options (Alonso, Moses, Hector Bellerin and Sean Kolasinac) had more touches in opposition penalty areas than the England international in 2017/18 (84).
West Ham’s Artur Masuaku (83) was the only defender to best him for BPS earned through successful dribbles (51).
He recorded more recoveries than any other defender and finished the campaign fourth for BPS points (719).
Maguire kept nine clean sheets in the end and played a key role in those shut-outs.
Another early-season attention grabber was Ahmed Hegazi who recorded a 15-point haul on the opening weekend.
At the time, 4.5 was an absolute steal for a West From defender, so a further eight points in Gameweek 2 saw him rise to 4.9 by Gameweek 4.
Just one shut-out between then and Gameweek 13 meant that Hegazi dropped back down to his original price by the end of November, but he remained good value in throughout the campaign, finishing second only to Azpilicueta for points per million.
Despite West Brom’s relegation, Hegazi still profited from 10 clean sheets in total, with three of them coming after Darren Moore took over as caretaker manager from Alan Pardew in April. But he still carried goal-threat throughout the campaign, even if he only found the net twice in the end.
Arsenal’s versatile full-back turned centre-back enjoyed his most attacking season in the Premier League this year, recording his second-best ever FPL total score of 130 points.
That largely stemmed from his personal best goal tally of five, joint-second best among defenders, after going over four years without finding the net in a league match.
His most memorable appearance was when he scored, assisted twice and took maximum bonus points despite playing just 33 minutes of Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace before going off injured in Gameweek 24.
Unlike Brighton’s Shane Duffy, who arguably should have recorded a greater FPL tally, Monreal’s tally wasn’t particularly backed up by many eye-catching underlying numbers. That didn’t stop the Arsenal man making three appearances in the Dream Team this year, all for double-figure hauls.
PATRICK VAN AANHOLT
It was a truly incredible end to the season for Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt.
He bagged a goal in each of his last three appearances and five in his final ten matches, marking a belated return to the level we’ve come to expect from him over the last few campaigns.
Even though most of his impressive points returns were recorded from Gameweek 29 onwards, van Aanholt’s numbers across the whole season are still worth considering.
As you’ve already read, no defender had more big chances than the Dutch international (seven). Not even Alonso was able to rival him with his four by comparison.
The former Sunderland man was also joint-top for big chances scored (four) with Chris Smalling. Such was the quality of his late-season form that, with Gameweek 38 now completed, only Alonso could boast more goals from the back than Van Aanholt.
Another option shine in the second half of the season was Liverpool’s Scottish left-back Andrew Robertson.
Since making the left-back spot his own, Robertson has been one of the most productive FPL defenders. He created more big chances than any other option in his classification between Gameweek 25 and Gameweek 38, other than Southampton’s Cedric (five), who he was level with.
In that time frame, he converted four of those into assists, tied with Moses at the top of that table.
Considering he set Fantasy managers back by just 4.7 in Gameweek 25, he proved to be an incredible budget option, outscoring his more popular and more expensive team-mate Virgil van Dijk.
Were it not for a knee injury picked up against Stoke in Gameweek 17, Stephen Ward might have finished 2017/18 as the most popular defender.
Across the season, he was the fifth-most signed earning 1.7 million transfers in.
A goal in the surprising opening day 3-2 win at Chelsea followed by seven clean sheets and an assist in his first 16 full appearances of the season ensured that the Burnley man went into the early part of December as the most owned in his classification.
In 23.8% of teams, his appeal stemmed from Burnley’s defensive reputation but also his positioning as a full-back. Accordingly, he rose from a starting price of 4.5 to 5.2.
However, that knee injury left him sidelined for ten matches, and Fantasy managers were forced to turn to his colleagues.
Interestingly, what they found was that James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, in particular, were arguably better assets to own, especially from an underlying statistics perspective.
Ward had never numbers that suggested assists or goals would be a regular aspect of his game, whereas Tarkowski and Mee, now much cheaper than Ward, were dominating the CBI.
During Ward’s prime (Gameweek 1 to 16), Tarkowski was top of the CBI charts with a score of 184, while Mee sat in fourth (158). The two of them occupied the top two spots for blocks with 26 and 25 respectively.
Furthermore, Tarkowski, who eventually earned an England cap, won more aerial duels than any defender other than Duffy during that time too (75), also coming second to the Brighton man for clearances (130).
Always a popular Fantasy selection when fit, once again the centre-back’s availability and security of start proved to be an issue over the campaign.
But his two prolonged periods of appearances – between Gamweeks 1-10 and 17-25 demonstrated Jones at his most effective.
Over that initial spell, he recorded a staggering eight clean sheets from ten starts, producing eight bonus points.
Indeed, Jones was dominant in the BPS, recording 19 bonus points overall, more than any other Man Utd team-mate.
Inevitably, Jones was to succumb to injury to miss five matches before returning to supply another seven shutouts, including a run of four successive clean sheets from Gameweeks 21 to 24.
Priced at just 5.0 at the start of the campaign, when available, Jones was able to deliver outstanding value.
For managers who timed the acquisition and sale of the centre-back, he will doubtless go down as one of the season’s most rewarding assets.