With less than a week to go, the time is now to decide on which defenders will and will not make your Sky Sports Fantasy Football backline.
Goalkeepers and defenders are an integral part of any team, but they have become increasingly important in the art of Fantasy Football, and even more so in Sky Sports Fantasy Football.
Rewinding to the 2018/19 campaign, I reported that there were five defenders among the top 10 point-scorers in the game, but fast forward to last season, and there were four goalkeepers and defenders combined who achieved the same feat, those being Dean Henderson and the Liverpool trio of Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk.
There are some potential bargains, and there are some which will come out of the woodwork, but two, or three of these five defensive players should be at the heart of your consideration when building your starting XI.
John Egan – £7.2m
Claiming an impressive 146 Fantasy Football points in his debut season in the Premier League, John Egan was value-for-money during Sheffield United’s successful campaign. Even with an increased price tag of £7.2m, he comes in as one of the cheapest assets in defence who started the majority of games last season.
This is reflected in his selection percentage, which currently stands at 11.75%. The price caters to accommodate those bigger players in defence, but at one of the value or budget picks, you will not go too far wrong with Egan, a solid defender who kept 13 clean sheets last term, scoring twice and picking up two man-of-the-match awards too.
Virgil van Dijk – £10.9m
For the second season in succession, Virgil van Dijk recorded the most points out of any of the defenders, and of any player in Sky Sports Fantasy Football, despite racking up 31 points less (268) than he did in 2018/19 (299). This does still equate to 7.1 points per game, a fitting average for the most expensive defender, his price inflating to £10.9m for the new season.
It does not seem to have put many off, with van Dijk making it into 32.37 per cent of Fantasy Football teams. With 15 clean sheets, five goals, and hitting tier two passing bonus points (70+) on 21 occasions last season, it seems that even £10.9m is not beyond the extreme to have the Dutch skipper in your side.
With just four games to navigate before the Overhaul (unlimited transfers within the £100m budget for a set period of time), van Dijk looks a good route to get your season off and running emphatically, starting with new boys Leeds on Saturday, despite Chelsea and Arsenal following afterwards.
Nick Pope – £6.7m
The Burnley stopper registered a whopping 215 Fantasy points last season, just three behind Dean Henderson, who topped the charts. Nick Pope kept 15 clean sheets, just the one behind Ederson who claimed the Golden Glove. He has since earned an England call-up off the back of his solid performances between the sticks.
Burnley’s ever-resolute defence only let in 50 goals last campaign, and this level of consistency is expected to continue next year. After a tough trip to Leicester on the opening day, Burnley face Southampton and Newcastle before the international break.
Pope tallied tier one bonus points (three or more saves) on 15 occasions and tier two (five or more saves) six times, so even when clean sheets may be hard to come by, there will still be averages coming in from your number one.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – £10.6m
Trent Alexander-Arnold finished fourth in the Sky Sports Fantasy Football charts last campaign with 245 points. He made double figures with assists for the second consecutive season, ending on 13 from that department. Trent cruised his way to the Young Player of the Year award, and is set for another enjoyable term in the red of Liverpool.
Perhaps it is the fact that the English full back comes into the game £0.3m cheaper than his teammate Virgil van Dijk is the reason behind a higher selection percentage, which stands at 37.07 per cent. Will Alexander-Arnold make it into your starting XI for the opening day?
Kieran Tierney – £8.1m
We really started to see the best of Kieran Tierney towards the back end of last season, and the Scotsman played his part in Arsenal’s FA Cup final success. With a pre-season under his belt, he should be fit and raring to go ahead of the new campaign.
His statistics may not look the most promising, but his ability to get down the flanks and right to the byline before delivering inch-perfect crosses should account for an upturn in assists from defence. As well as this, Arsenal’s defence should (should) be a bit more solid and sturdy with William Saliba coming back from his loan spell and the introduction of Gabriel, so clean sheet points could be easier to come by.
Only a short period of time awaits until the first match of the season, with Fulham hosting Arsenal at Craven Cottage.