Premium Defenders Are the Key to A Successful 2019/2020 FPL Campaign
Few things are tried-and-true in this life but I will dare say that starting with at least three premiumdefenders in FPL is one of them. I would argue for this campaign you are going to want to start with four premium defenders (for the sake of this article say 6.0£ or greater) to elevate to the top of the FPL
tables.

The most interesting thing regarding purchasing defenders in FPL compared to midfielders and forwards is that there is a very small gap of only 3.0£ between every single defender. In comparison the midfielders have a gap of 8.0£ and the forwards have a gap of 7.5£. With the 3.0£ gap that provides less room for error which is neither a good or bad thing; it is just fact.

Last year, the most expensive player, Marco Alonso (6.5£) was 6 th overall for total points among defenders. This was not even close to top 10 for points per million (ppm). Alonso ended the season at
24.8 ppm which was behind Willy Boly’s 26.7 ppm who was number 10 on highest ppm amongst defenders. But it is important to consider that Willy Boly’s 120 total points was tied for 15 th overall with Nathan Ake and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. That latter, who we commonly refer to as Obi-Wan on the FPL Art
of The Dive Podcast is also crucial to understanding why premium this year is the way to go.

Obi-Wan, started the season at 4.0£ and was by far the best defender bargain of the 2018/2019 campaign. Obi-Wan, Matt Doherty, and previously mentioned Willy Boly were defensive enablers last year as all three of these players finished amongst the top 10 for ppm and top 15 for total points overall among defenders last year. Other notable enablers were Ricardo Pereira and Lucas Digne, both of whom cost 5.0£ and even more importantly also finished amid the top 10 in ppm and also top 10 in total points.

This year, finding those “defensive enablers” is going to be hard to come by. Among the top 6 teams it will be very difficult to find a diamond-in-the-rough like Trent-Alexander Arnold. Currently, the lowest priced defender among Liverpool is 5.5 (Matip, Gomez, Lovren), Manchester City has (Otamendi, Stones,
Zinchenko, and Delph) at 5.5 and (Danilo and Angelino) at 5.0 both in serious jeopardy of any playing time. Chelsea manufactured 16 clean sheets last year, a far cry from Liverpool’s 21 and Man City’s 20. They do however have Andreas Christensen at 5.0£ who may be starting among David Luiz while Antonio Rudinger is recovering from a knee injury. Spurs are always challenging with rotation and all of their starting defenders are priced at 5.5£ which is not really in the enabler category. Arsenal and Manchester United are still defensive messes until proven otherwise so let’s not even go there.

As conferred earlier, with the EPL mid table teams, enablers can exist such as last year’s Digne, Obi-Wan, and Pereira. Problem is, at this point in the summer break no one is really sticking out. Maybe if Crystal Palace without Obi-Wan, Newcastle without Benitez, or Leicester with Rodgers can again hit double digit
clean sheets and a player solidifies himself as a consistent starter with some attacking ability an enabler may be found. But the key here is last year a lot of teams lucked out and started with Obi-Wan. It also quickly became clear other cheaper players like Doherty could be spliced into FPL teams without a major
drop off in production. What if that does not happen so readily this year? It may be really difficult to go from a 4.0-5.0£ defender who is floundering up to premium defender of your choosing without wildcarding.

That leaves the newly promoted sides. Newly promoted teams often offer the best the best enabling value as every single promoted defender aside from Enda Stevens (5.0£) costs 4-4.5£. Of the newly promoted sides Sheffield United led the Championship with 17 clean sheets, almost twice that of Norwich City’s 9 and Aston Villa’s 10. All of these totals are less than Wolverhampton’s 23 clean sheets in their Championship’s Title Run during the 2017/2018 campaign. On top of that, Wolves defenders Doherty and Boly benefited the most from their attacking returns as they only managed 8 clean sheets as a team in the English Premier League. Sheffield United defenders, aside from maybe Stevens, will
unlikely be providing lots of attacking returns.

With the lack of clear defensive enablers this year and the death of premium forwards (see previous article) a shrewd but excellent looking option is going heavy at the back. Last year players such as Andrew Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, and Aymeric Laporte all finished in the top four for ppm and total
points. They also were among the most available expensive defensive players at the beginning of the year. No one will forget about Trent who is a great premium option as well even with the price hike. If Chelsea’s defense can return to 2016-2018 form David Luiz and Azpilicueta offer slight price discounts at
6.0£. The big factor to watch is if a defender at the 5.5£ price on either Liverpool or Man City can work their way into the starting line-up consistently. Baring that becoming more obvious in the preseason I will be starting with four premium defenders on my team for the 2019/2020 FPL season due to the
consistency, high ppm, and lack of clear defensive enablers.

You Should Dive.
Jacob Klos

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