The importance of defenders in Fantasy Premier League is very understated. Outside of goalkeepers, in terms of value they are the highest performing position.
Additionally, as you can only play 1 goalkeeper, the 5 (potential) defenders you can play become even more vital.
The reason they provide the best points per £m in FPL is because they are, mostly, priced less than their midfield and forward counterparts.
Best FPL Defenders
According to current pick percentages in Fantasy Premier League, the best defenders in FPL 2021/22 are Luke Shaw, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ruben Dias and Ben White.
|Luke Shaw||Man Utd||£5.5m||57%|
|Ruben Dias||Man City||£6.0m||26%|
|Aaron Cresswell||West Ham||£5.5m||19%|
|Vladimir Coufal||West Ham||£5.0m||14%|
FPL assets can often be divided into two categories: premium and budget. In terms of defenders premium options would cost £5.5m/£6.0m to £7.5m.
The best premium defenders for the Fantasy Premier League 2021/22 season are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luke Shaw and Ruben Dias.
It would be remiss to not start with the most premium of all FPL defenders, Trent Alexander-Arnold. Despite being the most expensive defender in Fantasy Premier League (£7.5m), he is still the second most picked.
It’s easy to understand why too. He has 36 assists over the last three seasons alongside 7 goals.
Following his ridiculous 2019/20 where he scored 210 points, he naturally dropped down last season to score 160 points, which of course is still impressive.
This resulted in him finishing as the 3rd highest scoring FPL defender, behind teammate Andrew Robertson who scored one more point with 161 and Stuart Dallas on 171 (who is now a midfielder).
Alexander-Arnold appeared to start last season somewhat slowly which could mean 160 points might be his minimum. If so, even at £7.5m, it would be a brave decision to leave him out – especially when Liverpool’s opening fixtures are Norwich (a) and Burnley (H).
From being maligned under Jose Mourinho, Luke Shaw is now considered one of the best left backs in the Premier League.
It appears as if his EURO 2020 performances have skewed his popularity as he is the most picked defender in FPL, by far.
His £5.5m price tag is very reasonable but there’s an argument there’s better options even at Man Utd.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka out-pointed him last season. The former Crystal Palace man was excluded from the England squad over the summer and therefore will start the season fresher. Additionally, he has less competition on the right-side of the Utd defence whereas Shaw has Telles to contend with.
Elsewhere, Harry Maguire is another guaranteed starter at the same price point. He is picked by 5 times less managers than Shaw.
However, with this being said, if Shaw does continue his form, especially from the latter end of last season, and continues to bomb forward as he was, then it is certainly understandable why he has proven such a popular pick thus far.
Owner of the most clean sheets as a defender, Ruben Dias (£6.0m) had an incredible first season in the Premier League.
Other than Ederson, Dias played the most minutes for the champions, a very attractive metric for the routinely rotated Man City squad. Fortunately for those interested in him it seems there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be as used this season.
Again, with the exception of Ederson, Dias was Man City’s best value player too. So, if you’re looking for a safe route into the Cityzens team then Dias is your man.
An alternative is teammate Joao Cancelo, also £6.0m. He provides a much greater attacking threat and based on last season he is expected to score or assist once every 90 minutes.
The problem with Cancelo is his lack of minutes. Consequently Dias appears to be the better bet as evidenced by their respective pick percentages of 8% and 26%.
Ben Chilwell is one player that could be flying under the radar. He scored 139 points just 22 less than top scoring defender Andrew Robertson.
The significant statistic here though is he did so with significantly less minutes played than all who finished above him.
If he can keep Marcos Alonso out the team, which he did at the end of the season, then he could be that annoyingly said ‘must-have’ FPL player.
He scored 3 goals and 6 assists in his 2,286 minutes played.
Chelsea do have some tough fixtures following their Gameweek 1 home match against Crystal Palace. The Champions League winners did perform superbly in top 6 clashes when Thomas Tuchel took over which means, maybe, Chelsea’s fixtures shouldn’t be feared as much.
Jorginho winning Ballon d’or would be a travesty.
Messi deserves it and it’s not even close.
— Fantasy Football Pundit – FPL Tips and Help (@FantasyFPundit) July 14, 2021
The best budget defenders in 2021/22 FPL, according to pick percentages, are Ben White and Konstantinos Tsimikas.
The most in-fashion £4.0m Fantasy Premier League player right now is Tsimikas. As soon as Robertson got injured, FPL managers were immediately drawn to the possibility of a £4.0m Liverpool defender starting.
He started the friendly following Robertson’s injury, looked good and provided an assist. Consequently, he seems likely to start against Norwich. There are murmurings that James Milner could play left back but given the aforementioned performance he should be ok.
On paper this move seems a no-brainer. However, Robertson is expected back around Gameweek 4 and having Tsimikas locks you out of having three premium Liverpool assets.
A guaranteed Arsenal defender at £4.5m is nothing to turn your nose up at.
Arsenal have somewhat of an unfair ‘flaky’ reputation in defence. In reality they kept 12 clean sheets last season, tying for 5th in the Premier League.
White could easily find himself in the top 3 most picked defenders in FPL when the season starts.
The speedy Brighton wing-back (£4.5m) will be a force to be reckoned with should he produce points at the rate he did before his injury setback.
He scored 35 points in just 887 minutes, which when extrapolated across a season isn’t to far off Alexander-Arnold numbers.
Now, it’s unrealistic to think he could maintain that rate of scoring but nonetheless it shows he’s capable. This, alongside some very favourable early Brighton fixtures, and it makes sense he’s picked by nearly 20% of FPL managers.
It is now being reported that he will miss the first game of the season, however.
Luke Ayling and Conor Coady
Luke Ayling and Conor Coady are both similar options on paper: guaranteed starters, neither a particular goal threat and both play for teams that will be expected to get around 10 clean sheets for the season.
On top of this they share a similar level of fixture difficulty. Both being £4.5m they will garner some interest but like Fofana they’re there for their reliability to start.
We’ve already explained why differentials are so important in FPL. Here are some of the best differential defenders.
As per player ownerships percentages, the best differential defenders in FPL 2021/22 are Tyrone Mings, Kieran Tierney and Conor Coady.
Rayan Ait Nouri
The 20 year old had to share game time with Fernando Marcal and Jonny Castro last season.
He could be in line to play a lot more this campaign though, as Jonny is injured and based on the end of last season, he seemed to be preferred to Marcal.
His selection in your Fantasy Premier League team depends on new manager, Bruno Lage’s formation, however. If he continues with Wolves’ regularly used 5 at the back, as opposed to his preferred 442, then naturally he is far more appealing. If not, he is better left well alone.
By differential standards, players selected by less than 10%, he just fits the bill. Targett provided 4 assists last season on way to his best FPL score of 138.
Villa do employ a 4231 formation (usually) which means the former Southampton man is a traditional left back.
The Lions have fantastic fixtures to start the season which explains why their players are so highly picked going into Gameweek 1. Watford (a), Newcastle (H) and Brentford (H) are arguably the best three fixtures to start the campaign ahead of any other team.
However, it is worth noting Villa did keep 15 clean sheets in 2020/21, something we’d imagine would be difficult to replicate.
Our last player is both a budget defender (£4.0m) and a differential (2%).
Omobamidele partnered Grant Hanley at the centre of the Norwich defence at the back end of last season. This was due to Ben Gibson’s injury, who could easily come straight back into the team. If he doesn’t though, Omobamidele is a £4.0m starter.
We don’t expect Norwich to keep many clean sheets, as few people do, but he could be that budget defender you need.