Fantasy Premier League

Who are the best mid-priced and premium FPL defenders?

3 Aug 2023

The Scout highlights players priced £5.0m and over who should be in Fantasy managers' thoughts

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The Scout looks at the best players for managers’ opening squads in Fantasy Premier League, according to price and position.

Premium defenders

Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.0m) has earned his highest ever starting cost in Fantasy due to his change of role for Liverpool towards the end of last season.

The Reds’ new 3-2-2-3 formation allows the right-back to move into central midfield when they are in possession.

After a poor start to the Fantasy campaign in 2022/23, that change in tactics helped Alexander-Arnold get back to his best.

He produced one of his two goals for the season, and seven of his 11 assists, in his final 10 appearances.

His total of 60 points during that spell was at least 18 more than any other defender in Fantasy.

Top-scoring defenders from GW30
Player Goals Assists Clean sheets Bonus  Points
Alexander-Arnold 1 7 3 8 60
Estupinan 1 2 3 4 42
Porro 2 2 1 5 37
Mee 0 1 3 2 33
Moreno 0 1 3 2 31

By contrast, Kieran Trippier (£6.5m), the top-scoring defender last season, suffered a poor end to the campaign and claimed just 30 points in that run.

The Newcastle United right-back managed a mere two assists and one clean sheet.

Assessing the Expected Goals Involvement (xGI) statistics during the period when Alexander-Arnold played in his new role can help managers pinpoint defenders who offered a similar attacking threat.

Top defenders for xGI from GW30
Player xGI Shots Shots in box Key passes Big chances created
Alexander-Arnold 3.93 15 1 23 9
Trippier 3.27 2 1 30 5
Estupinan 2.56 14 11 17 3
Porro 2.50 17 9 16 4
Robertson 1.87 1 1 13 3

Alexander-Arnold's credentials are again highlighted by the xGI statistics, with his score of 3.93 putting him comfortably ahead of any rival.

But it was Trippier who proved his closest challenger on 3.27.

Indeed, the Newcastle right-back was the most creative defender in Fantasy in that run, producing 30 key passes to the 23 of Alexander-Arnold.

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Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pervis Estupinan and Tottenham Hotspur’s Pedro Porro (both £5.0m) each boasted strong all-round attacking potential during the same timeframe.

Estupinan’s 11 shots in the box ranked joint-top among defenders from Gameweek 30 onwards, while Porro’s 17 shots were more than any other player in his position. 

Both also placed in the top four for chances created, with 17 and 16 respectively.

Notably, Liverpool’s new system appears to have significantly reduced the close-range threat of Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson (£6.5m).

They each recorded only one shot in the box after the change of tactics.

When that fact is combined with each club’s early schedule, it’s easy to see why Estupinan has emerged as the most-popular defender for opening squads.

At a cost of only £5.0m, the Brighton left-back has climbed to an ownership of 50 per cent ahead of a run of four home matches in the first six Gameweeks.

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Arsenal centre-back Gabriel (£5.0m) also has four home matches in the opening six to enjoy a fast start to the season. 

The Brazilian’s 26 shots in the box throughout last season were more than the combined 19 of the rest of Mikel Arteta’s first-choice back four.

Meanwhile, Manchester City’s John Stones (£5.5m) has also profited from a new role, moving into central midfield when the champions are in possession.

Having already scored in pre-season, he is the second most-popular player in Pep Guardiola’s side, found in 27 per cent of squads. 

Spurs’ Porro and Chelsea full-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James (both £5.5m) can all emerge as top targets when their schedules turn kinder in Gameweek 3.

All three players have a share of set-pieces for their clubs. 

Aston Villa’s Alex Moreno and Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot (both £5.0m) also have big potential at both ends of the pitch.

Nonetheless, managers can afford to be patient with the pair when building their opening squads.

Moreno has yet to feature this summer due to injury, while Dalot’s late return to training due to international duties means he faces a battle with Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.5m) to start the season as the Red Devils’ right-back.

See: FPL pre-season minutes tracker

Also in this series

Part 1: Who are the best FPL goalkeepers for 2023/24?
Part 2: Who are the best FPL budget defenders for 2023/24?
Part 4: Who are the best FPL budget midfielders for 2023/24?
Part 5: Who are the best mid-priced and premium FPL midfielders?
Part 6: Who are the best FPL forwards to pick alongside Haaland?

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