Defense? We are talking defense? How boring! Strikers are fun. Strikers score. At best, defenders intercept. Still, a great majority of leagues must include defenders as part of their rosters. All DFS sites require teams to have at least two players who are defenders. Let’s face it, defense cannot be ignored.
Nevertheless, defense strategy is rarely discussed. Most articles about fantasy soccer dedicate their print space to forwards and a few hand-picked midfielders with only some exceptions. Occasionally, Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso is mentioned, but that’s because he scores goals. Or, his teammate Cesar Azpilicueta is brought up mainly because his assist stats are stellar this campaign.
With that in mind, let’s talk defenders for a change. Our strategy is to go cheap. In the case of straight drafts, we suggest dedicating the last rounds to them. In DFS, try to spend between 10% and 15% of the budget on defenders, but no more. If you play in a season-long league, the fun with defenders starts with Gameweek 1. Continually update your roster by picking up free agents weekly and rotating them as much as your league allows.
Who to pick up? That’s the question we want to explore. I suggest checking the upcoming matchups and picking defenders from weak teams that face strong opponents. If a game is played mainly in the half of the weaker team, your defenders are going to have the most interceptions and tackles. Assists are big point getters, but assists from defenders may depend more on the formation than on individual skills or the nature of the clash. For example, regarding the above mentioned two players, Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation may help Alonso more than Azpilicueta.
In recommending players for your Gameweek 8 rosters, we will assume that your league assigns a standard set of points to defenders, which typically includes interceptions, tackles won and blocks, in addition to any other stat that midfielders and forwards receive, like points for goals, assists and passes.
Check if the following players are available to add to your lineup. Stats shown next to the names are as of Gameweek 7.
Crystal Palace – Chelsea
Scott Dann (CRY), 16 interceptions
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (CRY), 14 interceptions
Tottenham Hotspur – Bournemouth
Nathan Ake’ (BOU), 44 clearances
Burnley – West Ham
Burnley defenders: Ben Mee, James Tarkowski or Jack Cork. All three excel in block tackles.
Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com