To start the season I like to line up my defence with 1/2 premiums (5.5-6.5), 0/1 mid-priced (5.0), 2 rotating budget options (4.5), and a 4.0 bench fodder. I will start 3 of these with one of the 4.5s and the 4.0 on my bench. The 4.0 bench fodder will be last on my bench so it doesn’t really matter if he starts or not, I’ve never had to use my last bench player before the 1st WC.
I like my defenders to have some form of attacking threat, whether it be through goals or assists. It can make a huge difference to your rank if you can hit a goal or an assist from a defender to go with a clean sheet. Defenders don’t usually hit the same ownership levels as the popular mids / strikers, so can be nice differentials. I’ve come to think that owning the right defenders at the right time for their attacking hauls can be the difference between a good rank, and a great one.
Three at the back is just how I like to set up my team. With the rise in popularity of the 3-5-2 and attacking wing backs, there is a strong argument for playing 4 at the back. My only advice would be, if you are going with 4 at the back, do it properly and own 3/4 premium attacking wing / full backs from the top teams. Think Robertson, Alonso & Davies.
Below are the defenders I think are worth considering for your GW1 team.
Alonso / Azpilicueta (6.5) [hud, ARS, new, BOU] [CDF, whm, LIV, sou]
Alonso comfortably topped the defender charts for total shots and shots on goals last season finishing on 7 goals. This was due to playing in an advanced LWB position, as well as being on direct free kicks. Sarri will likely adopt a 4-3-3 this season, meaning Alonso’s attacking threat may be reduced in a more conventional LB role. Keep a look out in the community shield for how much Alonso gets forward, and if he’s still on direct free kicks.
If you want consistency look no further than Azpilicueta who topped the defensive rankings with 175 pts last season, racking up 15 clean sheets and 25 bonus pts in the process. Azpi will likely be moved to RB this season meaning he may have more chance to get forward, although it’s yet to be seen the impact this will have on his bps potential.
Robertson / Van Dijk (6.0) [WHM, cpl, BHA, lei] [tot, SOU, che, MCY]
The Liverpool defence looks far more assured since the arrival of Van Dijk last season, and the signings of Keita and Fabinho should improve the protection to the backline offered by the midfield. This will hopefully mean we can enjoy more clean sheets from Liverpool this season. Robertson has good attacking threat from LB, and looks to be first choice over Moreno, while Van Dijk is always a threat from corners. I’ll likely start with one of these for their nice looking first 4 GWs and then look to move them out before they play three of the top six in GW5-8.
Mendy (6.0) [ars, HUD, wol, NEW] [FUL, car, BHA, liv]
Citys fixtures from GW2-7 look too good to ignore and they will keep clean sheets over that time period. Mendy will be first choice LB / LWB, and should have a license to get forward. Despite being part of City’s pre-season training camp, Mendy hasn’t yet played a minute of pre-season, and it’s possible Zinchenko will start the season at LB. Keep an eye out for Mendy’s minutes in the community shield later today. If he doesn’t feature he won’t be worth the risk.
Davies (6.0) [new, FUL, mun, wat] [LIV, bha, hud, CAR]
Another LWB with a high attacking threat, netting 2 goals and 6 assists last season. He is one of my favourite picks, however Spurs look to be struggling to get their world cup players back and fit to start the season. There is also always the possibility of rotation with Rose. Maybe one to consider later in the season.
Mee / Tarkowski / Lowton / Ward (5.0) [sou, WAT, ful, MUN] [wol, BOU, car, HUD]
The Burnley defence was notoriously hard to break down last season, earning them 12 clean sheets, the highest outside of the top six. The arrival of Ben Gibson from Middlesbrough confuses the centre back situation, one of Gibson, Mee or Tarwoski will miss out. Meaning Lowton may be the best option here, offering more of an assist than goal threat. Burnley also have Europa league qualifying to deal with, so fatigue may be an issue in the early part of the season.
Shaw (5.0) [LEI, bha, TOT, bur] [wat, WOL, whm, NEW]
Potentially a controversial pick, but Mourinho (if he’s to be trusted) has come out and said Shaw will start the season at LB. Valencia is also injured (unknown return date) meaning even if Young comes back he’s likely to slot back in at RB. United have good fixtures and like keeping clean sheets. Shaw offers a cheap route into that back line. However, it will only take one bad performance and Mourinho will drop him, especially when Young and Valencia are back, so picking him is a risk and will probably cost a transfer down the line.
Daniels (4.5) [CAR, whm, EVE, che] [LEI, bur, CPL, wat]
Bournemouth have a good set of opening fixtures, and Daniels likes to get forward from LB, offering a decent attacking threat. He usually scores a worldie once or twice a season. However, Bournemouth have signed LB Diego Rico from Levante who will compete with Daniels for the LB spot. Rico is suspended for GW1-3 though, so Daniels should be good to start the season. There is also the small issue that Bournemouth don’t really keep clean sheets, keeping only 2 in the second half of last season.
Tomkins (4.5) [ful, LIV, wat, SOU] [hud, NEW, bou, WOL]
Palace are on form coming into the new season, remaining unbeaten albeit with only one clean sheet. Hodgson seems to have sorted out their defensive issues though, with Palace keeping 4 clean sheets in their last 8 games of the 2017/18 season. Tomkins looks to be nailed on at CB, and also carries a decent attacking threat from corners.
Cedric (4.5) [BUR, eve, LEI, cpl] [BHA, liv, wol, CHE]
In pre-season Southampton have been playing a 3-5-2 formation with attacking wing backs, Cedric would fit in as the RWB in that system, and would normally be straight in my team because of it. However he annoyingly hasn’t featured in pre-season, and was ill for the last warm up game against Borussia Monchengladbach. Unfortunately he looks to be too much of a risk to start the season.
Doherty / Boly (4.5) [EVE, lei, MCY, whm] [BUR, mun, SOU, cpl]
I usually avoid the promoted teams defences. There are usually enough decent 4.5 options from established mid table sides more likely to keep clean sheets, to make selecting a promoted team defender seem sub optimal. The exception this year could be Wolves, who look to have signed some excellent players and look fairly solid at the back. Doherty lines up at RWB and netted 4 goals and 4 assists last season, while Boly will be a handful in the air at set pieces. Their first four fixtures aren’t the best though.
Wan Bissaka (4.0) [ful, LIV, wat, SOU] [hud, NEW, bou, WOL]
A starting 4.0 defender is the holy grail of FPL, freeing up budget to spend elsewhere in your squad. Wan Bissaka looks to offer us just that, having started all pre-season fixtures including the likely first team players. Palace also have good fixtures, and I’m very tempted to use Wan Bissaka in a rotation for my 3rd defender spot. He doesn’t really have attacking threat but doesn’t need to at that price.
Peltier (4.0) [bou, NEW, hud, ARS] [che, MCI, BUR, tot]
There’s a fairly good chance that Peltier will start the season at RB for Cardiff. Although he’s far from nailed on he would make a perfect bench fodder option to sit last on your bench. Again freeing up budget to invest in the rest of your squad. I’ve never needed my last bench player before the first WC, so even if he loses his place in the Cardiff side, the chances you will need him to score points for your side are slim.
I’ll need to watch the community shield and see the team news on Thursday and Friday before being able to make any final decisions. However this is my current thinking:
- I would like to go into the season with a Liverpool and Man City defender, I’m currently on Robertson and Mendy (if he features in the community shield)
- I’m very tempted to go with two 4.0 defenders for my bench as Wan Bissaka looks to be a sure starter for palace.
- The lack of secure 4.5 rotation options with good fixtures (Tomkins aside) has put me off this price bracket. I could always rotate Daniels with Wan Bissaka for that 3rd defender spot though.
- If Shaw looks certain to start the season, a 5.0 option in that United defences will likely be too good for me to turn down. I accept I’ll probably have to use a transfer on him before the first WC.
Current Defence: Robertson (6.0), Mendy (6.0), Shaw (5.0), Wan Bissaka (4.0), Peltier (4.0) = 25.0.
This is 1.0 more expensive than the defence I lined up with for GW1 at the start of last season, so a bit more expensive than usual. If Mendy becomes a no go he could switch to Alonso for 0.5 more or be downgraded to a 4.5 if I need the budget elsewhere.