Fantasy Premier League

How differential FPL defenders are outscoring popular picks

12 Dec 2023
Porro, Zinchenko, Torres FPL

The Scout highlights the best replacements for under-performing, highly-owned defenders

Related Articles
Who is the best forward to replace Haaland in Fantasy?
The Scout’s FPL Gameweek 17 Ones to watch
FPL Pod: Planning for the Double Gameweeks

The Scout explains how differential defenders are outscoring popular picks in Fantasy Premier League and pinpoints the key targets for managers looking to replace highly-owned, out-of-form picks.

What's the problem?

The five most-owned defenders in Fantasy have managed only three returns between them over the last four Gameweeks.

Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier (£7.0m) has been responsible for two of those, combining an assist with a clean sheet to collect 12 points against Manchester United. However, he is now set to serve a one-match suspension and miss the Magpies’ match against Fulham this weekend.

Arsenal’s William Saliba (£5.5m) has given his 35 per cent backers only a single clean sheet, blanking on three occasions.

Meanwhile, Joachim Andersen (£5.0m), Kyle Walker (£5.3m) and Matty Cash (£4.8m) have each delivered four blanks, with the latter having recently lost his role in the Aston Villa starting line-up. 

Most-selected defenders last four Gameweeks
Player Ownership Pts G A CS
Trippier 47% 13 0 1 1
Saliba 35% 10 0 0 1
Cash 22% 2 0 0 0
Andersen 20% 4 0 0 0
Walker 16% 7 0 0 0

The quintet's combined total of 36 points has been outscored by the 37 points of Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.1m).

Along with AFC Bournemouth’s Marcos Senesi (£4.4m), the Reds' right-back is among the three top-scoring players in Fantasy over the last four Gameweeks, highlighting the opportunities available to managers at the back if they decide to make a change.

Senesi has made a huge impact at both ends of the pitch, scoring twice and helping the Cherries to back-to-back clean sheets.

Everton have stepped up their resilience with a run of three successive shutouts, while both Fulham and Villa have kept two clean sheets in that period.

Villa’s clean sheets against Manchester City and Arsenal have underlined their reliability in home matches. They have conceded only five goals in such matches, second only to the four of Newcastle.

Top-scoring defenders, GW13-16
Player Pts G A CS
Alexander-Arnold 37 2 2 1
Senesi 31 2 0 2
Adarabioyo 21 1 0 2
Branthwaite 21 0 0 3
Tarkowski 21 0 0 3
Who offers the greatest goal threat?

Tottenham Hotspur’s Pedro Porro (£5.4m) has been the standout defender for goal threat over the last four Gameweeks.

The Spaniard’s numbers look very encouraging here, with his 12 shots and nine shots in the box both more than any other defender.

Porro's GW16 display v Newcastle

Alexander-Arnold, by contrast, has managed just three shots in the box, despite scoring twice.

His Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk (£6.2m) and Brentford’s Ben Mee (£4.8m) have both underlined their attacking threat with a goal each at set-pieces.

Goal threat compared, GW13-16
Player Shots Shots in box Shots on target Goals
Porro  12 9 3 0
Van Dijk 7 7 3 1
Maguire 6 6 1 0
Alexander-Arnold 6 3 2 2
Schar 6 2 1 0
Mee 5 5 1 1
Who is the most creative? 

Alexander-Arnold and Trippier’s superior potential for assists is highlighted by the creativity numbers.

They have both supplied at least double the number of key passes than any other defender over the last four Gameweeks, aside from Porro.

Indeed, Alexander-Arnold’s 15 key passes and five big chances created are both league-leading totals in that run.

Porro’s influence on the Spurs attack has been noticeable in the absence of James Maddison (£7.8m). The Spaniard has produced an assist in four of the five matches since the playmaker was sidelined. 

Creativity compared, GW13-16
Player Key passes Big chances created Assists
Alexander-Arnold 15 5 2
Porro 13 4 3
Trippier 12 2 1
Dalot  7 0 1
Tsimikas 6 0 1
Who has the best fixtures?

Porro and Senesi have among the most favourable short-term schedules to immediately make an impact on managers’ squads.

According to the Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDR), three of both Spurs and Bournemouth’s next four matches score only two.

Although all four of Chelsea’s matches score two in the FDR, rotation at the back looks a concern right now. 

Newcastle’s fixtures are also kind and should be enough to convince Trippier backers to hold for now, despite the inconvenience of his Gameweek 17 ban.

Investment in the Arsenal and Villa backlines could also pay off. Each of the Gunners' four fixtures over Gameweeks 19-22 score two in the FDR, as do three of Villa’s next five matches.

FDR compared next four Gameweeks
Matches scoring 2 in FDR Club
4 Chelsea
3 Bournemouth, Man City, Newcastle, Spurs
2 Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Brentford, Everton, Fulham, Luton
So, who is the best pick?

Porro certainly looks the standout option for managers who are keen to steer clear of the premium bracket.

The Spurs full-back has the underlying numbers and schedule to bring in returns for many Gameweeks to come. He has also been one of the most consistent defenders in 2023/24 Fantasy, producing either defensive or attacking returns in 10 of his 15 outings. 

Bringing in Villa defenders both for short-term gain and as long-term home/away rotation options could be another tactic to consider.

Pau Torres (£4.7m) has scored twice thanks to his threat at set-pieces, although in terms of minutes per shot in the box, the Spaniard is slower than his team-mate Diego Carlos (£4.4m).

Meanwhile, Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.2m) is an alternative to Saliba when Arsenal’s fixtures turn more favourably after Blank Gameweek 18.

The appeal of Alexander-Arnold and Trippier will ultimately be determined by how much budget managers are willing to spend at the back, particularly in a campaign where clean sheets have been hard to come by.

Their respective totals of three and four double-figure returns do highlight the peerless potential both offer when it comes to delivering huge hauls from defence, with Alexander-Arnold clearly the form pick of the pair. 

Also in this series

Part 1: Who is the best forward to replace Haaland in Fantasy?
Part 2: FPL experts: Who are the best forwards to own?
Part 3: The Scout’s FPL Gameweek 17 Ones to watch
Part 5: FPL experts: Is it worth taking points hits in Gameweek 17?
Part 6: The Scout’s FPL Gameweek 17 Differentials

Latest Videos

More Videos