Mid Priced Defenders – Fantasy Football Tips

This article will focus mainly on the attacking outputs of defenders in the £4.5m-£5.5m bracket this year, but showing players last year that were either expected to score a goal once every 9 games, or assist once every nine. If a player is missing, his expected attacking output was less than that.

Before starting on the attacking analysis though I have looked at the clean sheets achieved by each team in the last 2 years to see if there is any correlation.

As you can see, and as is obvious to any avid fantasy player, Manchester City and Liverpool are the elite options for clean sheets, closely followed consistently by Chelsea and Spurs. Manchester United had a serious drop off last year, and they have improved their defence with Wan-Bissaka so I expect a rebound to around 14-16 clean sheets this season.

Everton look the best of the rest, improving in the last 2 years, however I am concerned about them losing Gueye from the centre of midfield and that fact they only have 2 recognised centrebacks currently at the club.

I think there is a group of Leicester, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Burnley who are probably on a par for their expected clean sheets. Leicester could be more attacking, and have the prospect of losing Maguire late in the window, but if they keep a hold then they will pick up semi regular clean sheets. West Ham are so difficult to judge and Pelligrini loves an attacking 4-4-2 so I do not consider them reliable. Palace have lost their best defender and are starting the season with injury problems in defence, and Newcastle are moving to a new manager who looks to be trying to implement a more attacking brand of football, so I would look to avoid them also.

Burnley could be an outside bet to rediscover their form of 2 years ago and offer clean sheet potential, however Dyche likes his defenders to be exactly that, so do not expect too many attacking outputs from his defenders.

So overall, if you are looking to try and nab the clean sheet points, stay with players from Liverpool, City and Chelsea. If however you are trying to find the value in defenders for attacking outputs, keep reading.

Attacking Output comparison

Every player below has an xG or an xA of at least 0.1 per 90 minutes. This doesn’t mean other defenders aren’t options, and if you can get on a hot defensive team that is keeping clean sheets it may pay off, however these are the players that statistically are more likely to provide attacking outputs on top of any potential defensive outputs.

Name xG xA Combined
Matt Ritchie 0.14 0.18 0.32
Héctor Bellerín 0.05 0.20 0.25
Sead Kolasinac 0.03 0.21 0.24
José Holebas 0.04 0.17 0.21
Luke Shaw 0.05 0.16 0.21
Patrick van Aanholt 0.08 0.13 0.21
Kyle Walker-Peters 0.12 0.08 0.2
Serge Aurier 0.02 0.17 0.19
Seamus Coleman 0.05 0.14 0.19
Joel Ward 0.15 0.02 0.17
Nathan Aké 0.11 0.03 0.14
Willy Boly 0.10 0.04 0.14
Oleksandr Zinchenko 0.01 0.13 0.14
Ryan Bertrand 0.03 0.11 0.14
Fabian Schär 0.10 0.03 0.13
Fabián Balbuena 0.11 0.01 0.12
James Tarkowski 0.11 0.01 0.12
Shane Duffy 0.10 0.01 0.11
Jack Simpson 0.10 0.00 0.1

The clear players jumping out are Ritchie, Bellerin and Kolasinac. Holebas, Shaw, Van Aarnolt, Walker Peters, Aurier, Coleman and Ward could all benefit from being attacking fullbacks this year. There are also a couple of goal threats from centre back, in Ake, Boly, Schar, Balbuena, Tarkowski and Duffy.

I’ve then taken these players expected stats and for comparison purposes produced results if all of these players were to play 33 games. Obviously this is very difficult to predict as game time for many of these players could be restricted by rotation or injury, but below are the results

Name Expected goals in 33 games Expected assists in 33 games
Matt Ritchie 5 6
Héctor Bellerín 2 7
Sead Kolasinac 1 7
José Holebas 1 6
Luke Shaw 2 5
Patrick van Aanholt 3 4
Kyle Walker-Peters 4 3
Serge Aurier 1 6
Seamus Coleman 2 5
Joel Ward 5 1
Nathan Aké 4 1
Willy Boly 3 1
Oleksandr Zinchenko 1 4
Ryan Bertrand 1 4
Fabian Schär 3 1
Fabián Balbuena 4 1
James Tarkowski 4 0
Shane Duffy 3 0
Jack Simpson 3 0

Matt Ritchie (£5.5m) – Newcastle

Matt Ritchie is really a creative midfielder playing wing back currently, and in Bruce he has a more attacking manager than Benitez was, however it also looks like Newcastle are being linked with left backs, so it may be Bruce doesn’t expect him to play there all season, or he could switch him to the right. He’s a double threat from defence though, of which there aren’t that many around.

Hector Bellerin (£5.5m) & Sead Kolasinac (£5.5m) – Arsenal

If we take Bellerin and Kolasinac as one, it is fair to say Arsenal are an attacking side and will use their fullbacks that way. However their defence is not set currently, with Bellerin injured and Kolasinac possibly being replaced by Kieran Tierney, so if we can confirm the Arsenal fullbacks in the first few weeks I would expect attacking outputs from them.

Jose Holebas (£5.0m) – Watford

Holebas is a corner and freekick taking attacking fullback, and if you can rotate him in an out for when Watford are hot, you could pick up from great returns.

Luke Shaw (£5.5m) – Manchester United

Shaw is expected to be part of strong looking back four for Man U, and with Wan Bissaka on the other side less attacking I’d expect Shaw to be the roaming fullback he showed at times last year.

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Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) – Crystal Palace

Van Aarnholt is always a great option in fantasy. He loves getting forward, has a real good eye for goal and is the best Crystal Palace option out there.

Kyle Walker-Peters (£5.0m) – Tottenham

Walker-Peters and Aurier are similar options and its likely one of them will make the right back berth their own in Spurs new stadium. I will be looking with keen interest at the rest of pre season and their first couple of games to see who looks to be their number 1 guy now Trippier has left.

Seamus Coleman (£5.5m) – Everton

Coleman is also another solid option for regular attacking returns and benefits from him and Digne being real attacking options down the flanks. If Everton continue their defensive improvements he could be a great asset all season long.

Of the centreback options, you will get a few of the players popping up with corner/free kick goals all season long, so if Ake, Boly, Schar, Tarkowski or Duffy end up keeping consistent clean sheets, or just not shipping loads of goals they could be great options as differentials.

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I’m going to offer two options at each price point, one based on attacking output, and one based on attacking output and potential defensive scores.

At £5.5m Matt Ritchie is the obvious attacking option. For combined output however I consider Zinchenko the best current combined option, if we can guarantee he starts. After his last season I expect him to start the season at LB, but if Mendy stays fit he could lose his place

Holebas at £5.0m, with his wand of a left foot is a great attacking option for Watford, however I’d consider whoever wins the right back berth at Spurs between Walker-Peters or Aurier as the consistently safe pick for both attacking and defensive returns.

£4.5m is obviously a lot tougher, however in an attacking sense i’d consider Joel Ward now Wan Bissaka has moved on. He had a good expected return in his games last season and will likely get much more game time this season. Overall however Balbuena could also be an untapped option. Diop is very strong defensively so if Balbuena partners him, he could pick up a few goals and clean sheets along the way.

Written by @LotmerFPL

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