Which combination of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) defenders to own has been a big talking point of the opening few Gameweeks of the season.
Should Fantasy managers sell Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) to budget for the desirable premium forwards? Is a double-up on £4.0m defenders a wise move? Should we trust the underlying stats and invest in the Wolves backline even after their Gameweek 5 defeat to Brentford?
We asked the Scout Network for their thoughts on the best defenders in the £5.0m-and-under bracket and the more expensive purchases.
£5.0m and under
Nelson Semedo (£4.9m) has yet to register attacking returns but sits on an xG (expected goals) of 0.79 and an xA (expected assists) of 0.4 from four appearances. Wolves have been putting up decent numbers as a team but are failing to make the most out of it. With fixtures now looking great all the way into December, Semedo should be able to deliver upon the promise shown so far.Meltens
Nelson Semedo looks the standout pick. Yes, Wolves were handsomely beaten by Brentford but many more teams will be embarrassed by Ivan Toney (£6.3m) this season. We’re happy that the result is just a blip and if we had the budget, would grab Semedo at the drop of a hat. His penalty area involvement is impressive and, with four decent fixtures, he’s a player with lots of potential.FPL Experiment Podcast
It’s difficult to understand when and why Matt Lowton‘s (£4.4m) price has decreased as he is only owned now by 1.5% of the field. But Burnley is a medium-plus range defence of the Premier League and is always a tough opponent at home with more clean sheet potential than, for instance, Leeds or Watford. This year, with assists from crosses in his arsenal and a friendly price tag, Lowton looks like a good rotating option in our defense.FPL Froggies
Ben White (£4.4m) is without doubt one of the better sub-£5.0m options around with the fixture ticker a lovely shade of green and there’s a renewed steel about the Arsenal defence. Gabriel (£5.0m) and White look like their partnership could blossom and there is no doubt that Thomas Partey’s (£5.0m) return this week gives them extra protection, so at £4.4m I suspect he will grace many a Gameweek 7 Wildcard team.Greyhead
After losing to Brentford in Gameweek 1, Ben White (£4.4m) was sold by many FPL managers, especially as he missed the next two games with Covid. But the England defender has since helped his team win back-to-back games without conceding. Barring their clashes with Tottenham (Gameweek 6), Liverpool (Gameweek 12) and Manchester United (Gameweek 14), they have a run of seemingly easy games until the end of the year (Gameweek 20) and I expect White to bring solidity to an Arsenal side that were hard to break in the latter part of last season.FPL Poet
Tino Livramento (£4.2m) has shown impressive potential for a defender that started in the £4.0m price point. He has started all Southampton’s matches, in which the Saints accomplished two clean sheets. Additionally, he has created four chances and 12 crosses. Not only do his potential attacking returns make him attractive, he is owned by only 10.1%, and his low cost can free up funds for other FPL assets. In the following five matches, the Saints only have one difficult fixture from Wolves (H), Chelsea (a), Leeds United (H), Burnley (H) and Watford (a).Bendito Fantasy
Timo Livramento has to be the best budget defender in the game right now. He started the season at £4m and has started every game. With the amount of premiums we are trying to fit in our squads, he is a very good enabler, in my opinion. Despite a tough opening five fixtures, Southampton have been able to keep two cleen sheets and concede just one goal from games against Manchester Utd, West Ham and Manchester City – three of the best attacks in the league right now. Southampton’s fixtures from Gameweek 6-12 are very good (bar Chelsea in Gameweek 7) so we can expect Livramento to rack more clean sheets and offer tremendous value.Fantasy Chat
Shane Duffy (£4.3m) is one of the top budget defenders after five games. He has 27 points, one Fantasy assist and two clean sheets. At his price point, he is a great enabler, freeing up budget for other premiums elsewhere. Over the next three games, Brighton play Crystal Palace (a), Arsenal (H) and Norwich (a) and are probably good for a couple of clean sheet over that spell. From Gameweek 9 they play Man City and Liverpool back-to-back; time to jettison him.FF Titan
Shane Duffy has to be our value pick for the next three games. Travelling away to both Palace and Norwich, sandwiched around a home fixture against Arsenal, combined with Brighton’s strong start to the season and a price tag of £4.3m makes him a prime candidate to get into the Mini League Mate first XI.Mini League Mate
Over £5.0m defenders
City have four clean sheets in five games and their defenders are set-and-forget options from Gameweek 8 onwards (barring any Pep roulette) due to their great run of fixtures. There’s no guessing what Pep might do, but it’ll be worth investing in the pricier pair of either Ruben Dias (£6.1m) or João Cancelo (£6.0m) for as much safety as possible. There’s not much to split them currently, as both have played every minute in every game so far and both have an assist, Dias just stealing a few more bonus points than his team-mate. There will be rotation once the Champions League kicks in but hopefully, with the pressure on, Pep will call on his trusted defensive pair more times than not in the Premier League.FPL Nymfria
While no one is really “nailed” for Manchester City as we are all aware, João Cancelo has started all five games in the league so far and his the advantage of being able to play both on the left and right hand sides of the defence. His xG is 0.82 and xA is 0.86 so, even if the very short-term prospects could be dicey against Chelsea and Liverpool (both away), the medium and longer-term prospects of Cancelo continue to look great.Meltens
It’s boring but can you ignore a player who has averaged 6.8 points per game and is £1.5m cheaper than Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m)? Ruben Dias faces tough opposition in Chelsea and Liverpool in the next two fixtures but Burnley in Gameweek 8 at home makes up for this, especially with the fixtures becoming much greener thereafter. Plus. with the likes of Dias and the City defence, the fixtures are less important because of the solidity of their backline.Mini League Mate
It is starting to reach the point where we are just overthinking it when it comes to Marcus Alonso (£5.8m) this season. He has always had the potential to reach Trent Alexander-Arnold levels of returns but the game-time was the worry. Now he has started every match this season, produced four clean sheets, a goal and an assist in just five games and quite frankly, he was unlucky not to come out with 20 points against Spurs rather than 10. He plays for the best defence in Europe and the fixtures turn green starting from Gameweek 7. Sure, there can be the odd benching every now and then but if you have decent squad depth to cover this, the upside of owning him is too good to pass.Fantasy Chat
Marcus Alonso. Answer me, why not? Without using the word rotation. Every man and his dog is aware of the lovely run of fixtures coming up for Chelsea from Gameweeks 7 to 12 – couple that with their defensive strength with four clean sheets already and the much-fabled swashbuckling ways of the Spaniard and you are onto a winner. He has created 12 chances already and appears to think he is a striker with nine shots, six of those in the box, so there are some potentially huge hauls coming his way. I am sure he will miss the odd game but there are enough cheap options this year to cover his absences and the upside is too good to ignore.Greyhead
Antonio Rüdiger (£5.5m) has started all five of Chelsea’s league games so far, recording a clean sheet in four of them besides scoring a goal. From Gameweeks 7 to 11, they have five easy games which bodes well for the London side’s tight defence while their Gameweek 6 opponents Manchester City can also be contained, which Southampton showed last weekend. For anyone using a Wildcard, the German is a ‘must have’ while people not taking a wildcard now should also aim to cash in on Chelsea’s excellent run of fixtures and transfer him in before Gameweek 7.FPL Poet
Over £5.0m, we’re looking at Chelsea assets for their fixtures from Gameweek 7 onwards. The challenge is choosing the Chelsea defender that won’t be benched! With that in mind Antonio Rudiger looks the best bet, especially if you have a playing bench option. Chelsea don’t tend to bring on centre-backs as subs, so if Rudiger is benched, there’s a strong chance he won’t come on and your bench option can fill in.FPL Experiment Podcast
Trent Alexander-Arnold has delivered every season and has continued to do so this time, despite missing Gameweek 5 with an illness. The Liverpool right-back ranks highly in almost every creativity metric, including expected assists and successful crosses. When he returns, he will contribute significantly and is an absolute season-keeper. He is one of the first names on my squad at any given time of the season.FF Titan