After scouring the mid-price and premium defender brackets, our attention turns to the budget assets in defence.
All of our other positional guides – on goalkeepers, midfielders and forwards – can be found here.
With the second-best ‘expected goals conceded’ (xGC) figure in the league from Gameweek 20, Brighton defenders are set to be of great interest in Fantasy terms.
Apart from Lewis Dunk (£5.0m), all of Graham Potter’s backline are priced at £4.5m or below. Tariq Lamptey is currently the most popular Seagull with an ownership of 19.3%. Having missed most of last season through injury, the flying wing-back’s pre-season will be one to keep a close eye on.
Ben White would seem the obvious pick apart from heavy rumours linking the centre-back to an Arsenal switch. That leaves Adam Webster and Joel Veltman as the ‘safe’ budget options at the Amex for the time being. Brighton sit top of the FFS Season Ticker when sorted by defence for Gameweeks 1 to 6.
Veltman began 25 games last season, with Webster starting 29. The former may be at risk for a place in Potter’s XI should White remain at Brighton and Lamptey prove his fitness, though he could also contend with Dan Burn for the left wing-back spot.
Leicester City sit eighth on that xGC table, having conceded four goals more than expected from Gameweek 20. Wesley Fofana (£4.5m) is kindly priced, having started 27 games under Brendan Rodgers in his debut season.
Rodgers’ preferred formation will be of great interest to FPL players. If he sticks with a wing-back system, Fofana would be a shoe-in for the Foxes’ XI. If the Northern Irishman reverts to a four-man defence, however, the 20-year-old would be competing with Jonny Evans (£5.5m) and Caglar Soyuncu (£5.0m) for two spots.
If Rob Holding (£4.5m) can hold down a place under Mikel Arteta this season, we could have a great enabler on our hands. Arsenal’s fixtures take a turn for the better from Gameweek 4.
Once fit, Rico Henry (£4.5m) appears the pick of the Brentford defenders. He could be deployed at left-back or in a wing-back role. Centre-half Ethan Pinnock (£4.5m) offers greater security of starts and a set-piece goal threat.
Burnley full-backs Charlie Taylor and Matt Lowton both come in £0.5m cheaper than centre-back colleagues Ben Mee and James Tarkowski. A relatively difficult opening run may quell interest in the Clarets, however.
Crystal Palace defenders are all available at a maximum of £4.5m, though a new manager and an opening-day trip to Chelsea will understandably lead to FPL bosses looking elsewhere.
Apart from Junior Firpo (£5.0m), Leeds United defenders all come in at £4.5m. Luke Ayling was the biggest xGI underachiever in defence last season, racking up 4.90 expected goal involvements but coming away with zero attacking returns.
The Whites do take on Manchester United (a) and Liverpool (H) in their opening six games, though Ayling or one his £4.5m colleagues could be rotated with other budget options to avoid particular fixtures.
Matt Ritchie (£5.0m) is the only Newcastle United defender priced above £4.5m. Paul Dummett, with 12, made the most starts of any budget Magpies defender over the second half of the season.
Norwich City right-back Max Aarons (£4.5m) will be remembered by FPL managers from the 2019/20 campaign. A pretty horrible run of games in the first four Gameweeks does not encourage investment in the Canaries’ defence.
Southampton’s Jan Bednarek (£4.5m) started 36 times under Ralph Hasenhuttl in 2020/21. The Saints had the third-worst xGC in the league from Gameweek 20.
Eric Dier, Ben Davies, Davinson Sanchez and Joe Rodon are all available at £4.5m, though who might become first-choice under new boss Nuno is anybody’s guess at this point.
Kiko Femenia (£4.5m) logged four assists for Watford over 36 Championship starts last season. Former Spurs full-back Danny Rose (£4.5m) could find himself on the opposite side of defence to Femenia after signing a deal at Vicarage Road. The Hornets are fourth on our Season Ticker when sorted by defence for the first six Gameweeks.
If Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) happens to regain a wing-back berth at West Ham, he could become an interesting asset. If David Moyes decides to return to a back three, Issa Diop (£4.5m) could also earn minutes.
Wolves’ old reliable Conor Coady (£4.5m) has a new manager to impress in Bruno Lage. Wanderers face Leicester (a), Spurs (H) and Man Utd (H) in the first three Gameweeks so we should have plenty information before taking the plunge on Wolves assets.
The £4.0m defender bracket looks a wasteland at present. Javier Manquillo, who made just four starts over the second half of the season, has the highest ownership in this category at 10.3%.
Brandon Williams has a 5.4% ownership base, likely the result of strong rumours that the Man Utd defender will join Southampton on loan. However, the Saints have already signed left Romain Perraud (£5.0m) since Ryan Bertrand departed the club.
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