This season plenty of managers will spend big on expensive defenders. However, the £4.5m options at the back are remarkable. Picking the right one can enable you to fit in more of the explosive attacking players we are spoiled with this year.
We have looked closer at six budget defenders for FPL you need to consider if you want to be competitive this season.
Some fantasy managers have strong opinions on defensive picks and insist on only picking attacking fullbacks. With the rise of the 3-4-3 systems, the wing-backs provide even more excitement. But the safety of the centre-back shouldn’t be underestimated, especially a big man who likes to get his head on corners and free-kicks. With £4.5 defenders, as with life, variety is usually the key to success.
BUDGET DEFENDERS TO BUY IN FPL 2022/23
Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal, £4.5m)
Having come out of nowhere (specifically Bologna), Tomiyasu impressed the Arsenal faithful with his defensive solidity from right-back and quickly became a fan favourite, notching six clean sheets and one assist in his first ten games.
Averaging 4 points per 90 last season, Tomiyasu provides slightly more attacking impetus than his fellow £4.5 defender Ben White. However, I think White’s position is less secure this season with the return of William Saliba from Marseille. Conversely, the Japanese fullback is 100% nailed when fit.
I think the concerns around Tomiyasu’s fitness issues are slightly overstated, and I expect Arsenal’s defence as a whole to improve. With only one game against last season’s top six in the first eight fixtures (Man United away), the Japanese fullback is ideal for your Gameweek 1 draft.
Ait Nouri (Wolves, £4.5m)
Notching a goal and four assists in only 18 starts last season, Rayan Ait-Nouri managed a respectable 4.2 points per game. The attacking wing-back is an exhilarating young prospect at Molineux.
Expected to be nailed, with the departure of Fernando Marcal, the French under 21 is a brilliant pick for your Gameweek 1 team. Wolves’ first six games are pretty generous, with a trip to Spurs the only match which would spark fear.
Furthermore, Wolves were an excellent defensive unit last year, keeping 11 clean sheets (same as Arsenal) with a steep decline toward the end of the season. If Bruno Lage’s side can find the form they showed early last year, it would give Ait-Nouri the perfect blend of defensive certainty and attacking impetus.
James Justin (Leicester, £4.5m)
After a highly impressive breakout season in 20/21 James Justin endured an injury ridden season just past. However, this means the Leceister left-back comes in undervalued with the potential for significant returns.
In his debut season, the Foxes’ fullback managed two goals, two assists and nine clean sheets in just 23 games. He was a mainstay that season, albeit with Ricardo Pereira out injured, but still, his versatility at playing left and right back makes him a favourite of Brendan Rodgers.
The 23-year-old is a progressive defender with an eye for goal. In the 20/21 season, his average distance from goal per shot was just 9.6 metres.
Leicester have a nice run of games to kick off the new campaign and with no European football to focus on, I’m backing the Foxes’ fullback to be a clever pick.
Lewis Dunk (Brighton, £4.5m)
For me, Lewis Dunk is the bread and butter of budget defenders for FPL. He’s not going to get your pulse racing, but he’ll get the job done when needed (well, sometimes anyway).
Surprisingly handed a price decrease off the back of a lacklustre last season, it seems likely that the centre-half will revert to the form that saw him bag 128 & 130 points, respectively, in the two seasons before last.
A mainstay at the back, the big Seagull’s skipper is a menace at set-piece time, in the 2020/21 season he scored more goals than any other defensive asset, netting five times.
If you are looking for a cheap defender that’s 100% nailed, in a well-organised and improving defence with decent goal threat and whose good on bonus, Lewis Dunk simply has it all.
If you’re looking for good budget midfielders for FPL his team mate Alexis Mac Allister is worth considering.
Pontus Jansson (Brentford, £4.5m)
Another big man up from the back is Pontus Jansson, who provides excellent value for money, as well as giving you the chance of a return from nearly every dead ball situation.
Brentford’s highly specific tactical approach makes them a very interesting team and a handful at set-pieces which they work on more than any other side in the league. Three goals (8th among defenders) and four assists (9th) for the season in 21/22 as well as 1.6 touches in the opposition penalty area per game makes the big Swede a constant goal threat.
Defensively, the Bee’s fared okay too, with nine clean sheets. I expect that to increase this year with the return of David Raya in goal.
A goal-scoring centre-back is always a handy weapon to have in your arsenal, and for me, Jansson is the pick of the centre-back budget defenders for FPL.
Fabian Schar (Newcastle, £4.5m)
Speaking of goal-scoring centre backs, Fabian Schar is also used to seeing the back of the onion sack. Schar is no stranger to the score sheet, with two goals and two assists last term, including one from a direct free-kick against Spurs.
Averaging a cool 5.8 points per game, he’s a nailed and cheap route into a steadily improving Newcastle defence. In the second half of last season (19 games) they kept five clean sheets, conceding more than one only twice (away at Man City and Spurs). With Nick Pope joining the Magpies as well as other defensive reinforcements, I expect St. James’ Park to become somewhat of a fortress; the powerful Austrian offers a chance of return at both ends of the pitch.
Odhrán Brennan is a data journalist for a sports data company, living in Finland. He’s been playing FPL since the 06/07 season and is a long suffering fan of both Arsenal and the Republic of Ireland national team.