Finding budget defenders in FPL 2019/20 feels harder than in previous seasons. There are no standout options in the £4.0 bracket and many of last season’s stalwarts have seen a substantial price increase.
That’s not to say there isn’t a wealth of cheap FPL defenders out there; some perhaps destined to become the next Aaron Wan-Bisakka, others happy to settle with being this year’s Matt Targett.
This article will look at the best budget defenders in FPL 2019/20, sharing insight into their previous season, style of play and underlying statistics.
The Best Budget Defenders (£4.5) In FPL 2019/20
Often overlooked with the preference on his centre-back partner, I was one of the few who placed their faith in this budget defender through thick and thin, over the best part of two full seasons…and about 34 Duffy headed goals!
Things have now changed. Duffy has been handed a £0.5m price rise and the flock will likely, and reluctantly, join me in bumping Lewis Dunk’s ownership instead.
Over the past two seasons, he has been a steady scorer with a good mix of defensive and attacking returns. 10 clean sheets and two attacking returns in 2017/18 were followed by 7 clean sheets and 3 attacking returns in 2018/19.
If any defender was due more goals it would probably be Dunk. The 27-year-old has registered 42 goal attempts from inside the box over the last two seasons.
As discussed in our £4.5m defender rotations article, Craig Cathcart is the standout pick in the £4.5m category based on last season’s statistics. He ranked 2nd for total points (93), 3rd for minutes played (3095) and 1st equal for goals scored (3) amongst last season’s cheap defenders.
This is an impressive output for someone who, for the most part, sneaked under the radar. Personally, I feel his returns lacked coverage. This is a defender who outscored the likes of Bennett and equalled the overall points tally of Holebas: both of whom are now valued at £5.0m.
The prospect of attacking returns for Kiko Femenia always garners a decent amount of interest, but his unpredictable role in the starting XI with stern competition from Janmaat is too much of a headache and will only lead to unforced transfers.
One thing we learnt last season is that Burnley couldn’t handle the extra commitment to European football. Similar to their manager’s political beliefs, they will likely perform better exclusively in England as they look to rediscover the defensive cohesion that once set them apart.
Of the cheap defenders in the game, Charlie Taylor played the most minutes of any last season, but Burnley’s upturn in clean sheet potential is fundamental, as he rarely participates in the final third.
In 2017/18, before their additional European involvement, they ranked 7th for total clean sheets (12) and 6th for goals conceded (39) in the Premier League. If they hit similar numbers and Taylor continues to feature in the majority of matches, this combination should be enough to gloss over his lack of attacking output.
Sheffield United will be quietly confident of holding their own defensively this season. They conceded just 17 times at home in 23 matches last season, securing eight consecutive clean sheets at the start of 2019 on their way to 21 shutouts overall in the Championship.
Being left-footed, Jack O’Connell naturally occupies the left CB slot in Sheffield’s tried and tested back three. They never altered this once in their 46 Championship matches, using a 3-4-1-2 formation 34 times, a 3-5-2 10 times and a 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 variant on a couple of occasions.
O’Connell has been part of this system for three seasons. His contribution involves 4 goals and 2 assists for League 1 promotion in 16/17, 4 assists in the following season where he also played every available minute (4140) and most recently chipped in with 3 goals and 3 assists to help clinch promotion. There aren’t many budget defenders with strong attacking and clean sheet potential.
Adam Smith has never been a long-term option in FPL, but could this change in 2019/20? Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels remain on the road to recovery with long-term injuries, while fellow fullbacks Diego Rico and Jack Simpson remain on the outskirts of the starting lineup.
Along with Nathaniel Clyne’s loan spell ending, now is the time for Smith to take advantage and feature prominently. With his versatility and both fullback slots there for the taking, he could reap the rewards and feature heavily.
2016/17 was the first season in which he managed to complete over 3000 minutes, scoring once, assisting five and earning 12pts in the bonus system for a total of 100 FPL points. If he can crack the 3000-minute mark once again we can expect similar returns.
Aston Villa’s new singing Matt Targett has a lot of experience in the Premier League for a 23 year old. He’s featured for Southampton 63 times contributing with a goal and six assists and played 21 times on-loan at Fulham last year notching another goal and a couple of assists.
As Dean Smith took charge of his first match in Gameweek 13 of the Championship season, Villa were situated at 15th in the table, conceding an average of 1.3 goals per game and kept just one clean sheet. Although Villa continued to ship a lot of goals, Smith cut their average conceded to 0.8 and did an excellent job for the remainder of the season.
Despite Targett’s attacking potential, he is still a big gamble with Villa’s susceptibility to leak goals. He would be most efficiently used as part of a rotation to target easier fixtures and, in my opinion, as discussed in this 4.5m rotations article, Charlie Taylor is your best bet.
Priced at £5.0m and with high hopes of attacking returns after assisting 7 times to gain promotion with Fulham, things didn’t go to plan for Fredericks last season. He struggled to adapt and was pushed out of the starting lineup by Pablo Zabaleta before suffering a serious injury.
“I was out for four months but since I came back the manager has been good to me. I’ve played a few games and hopefully, I’ve shown him that he doesn’t have to go out and spend a fortune on another right back.”
He certainly did impress during the latter stages of the season and will look to impress during pre-season. There’s no guarantee, but if he does manage to leapfrog the Argentine veteran in the pecking order, his mix of attacking and clean sheet potential under Manuel Pellegrini is unrivalled in this price bracket.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the fullback with his tendency to stride forward and join in on offensive moves. Max Aarons’ 8 attacking returns (6 assists and 2 goals) matched that of Matt Doherty during his promotion season, though Norwich’s defensive stability is worrying.
Even in a Championship winning season, they conceded 34 times in 23 home fixtures. This is likely due to their confidence of overturning weaker teams with their potent attack, but this will not be something to hang their hat on with the step up to the Premier League.
The reason I would like to debunk the Matt Doherty comparison is that even with his obvious attacking exploits, Wolves were miles ahead in the defensive department. They averaged 0.85 goals conceded in their 17/18 Championship winning season, compared to Norwich’s 1.24.