The 2017-18 Premier League season is gearing up for the hectic Christmas period and that means fantasy football bosses will have to be on the ball.
Our very own Goal Fantasy Football is also up and running — and it's free to play. The mobile app can be downloaded through this link so that you can create and update your squad wherever you are.
The Fantasy Premier League game on the Premier League's official website is also a popular choice for fantasy managers, but whatever game you use, we've taken a look at some of the best fantasy football defenders, including a few bargains to consider!
BEST FANTASY FOOTBALL DEFENDERS
Though they came second to Tottenham in the goals-against column, Chelsea's backline dominated the top five top-scoring defenders in last season's fantasy Premier League.
Gary Cahill scored the highest with 178 points, with Marcos Alonso following close behind on 177, while Cesar Azpilicueta accumulated 170 points. Kyle Walker, who recently joined Manchester City from Tottenham, was the next highest with 142 points, while Liverpool's makeshift left-back James Milner scored 139.
When considering defenders in fantasy football it is important to look not only at the player's defensive attributes, such as keeping clean sheets, but also the amount of goals and assists they pick up throughout the season. For this reason, full-backs are usually the best choice, with top-scoring Gary Cahill representing an anomaly in last year's top five as the only out and out centre back.
Top five fantasy football defenders:
|1||Antonio Valencia||Man United||£6.8m|
*As of December 7
Antonio Valencia (Manchester United - £6.8m)
Having started out as a winger at Old Trafford, Antonio Valencia has evolved into Manchester United's first-choice right-back as well as one of their most important players in recent seasons. The Ecuador international still possesses explosive pace and his attacking nous means that he is always going to be a threat going forward. He finished last term with just one goal and three assists, but he may be given more licence as Jose Mourinho seeks to improve the team's win-count.
Marcos Alonso (Chelsea - £6.9m)
Antonio Conte's Chelsea comfortably cruised to Premier League glory last season and they did so using a fresh 3-4-3 formation, with wing-backs. Marcos Alonso was one of those wing-backs and the former Fiorentina man did a tremendous job, scoring six goals and laying on three more. The Spaniard has begun the new season just as he finished the last and he already has three goals under his belt, a fact that has helped his value increase.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea - £6.9m)
Usually a full-back, Cesar Azpilicueta was deployed mainly as part of a back three at Chelsea last season, meaning he did not have as much of an opportunity to get forward as he would have in previous seasons, but he still managed to chip in with more assists than wing-back Marcos Alonso (4) and a goal in the Blues' successful Premier League campaign. Like his compatriot Alonso, the Spain international has hit the ground running this term and is the highest scoring Chelsea defender thus far.
Kyle Walker (Man City - £6.7m)
Manchester City paid big money to Tottenham for Kyle Walker and Pep Guardiola has already received plenty of returns from the 27-year-old. The England international endured a stop-start beginning this year and lost himself points when he was sent off against Everton, but he is a certain starter, who will pick up plenty of points during the course of the season.
Nicolas Otamendi (Man City - £5.9m)
Manchester City's rampant attack has been grabbing the headlines this season, but their defence is often overlooked, despite managing to keep its fair share of clean sheets. Nicolas Otamendi, in particular, is City's highest scoring defender this season and will surely rack the points up if Guardiola's men can carry on winning.
Ben Davies (Tottenham - £5.6m)
Tottenham full-back Ben Davies took full advantage of Danny Rose's injury absence to cement his place in Mauricio Pochettino's team at the beginning of the season and he has repayed the Argentine coach's faith in abundance. He has been in and out the team in recent weeks as Pochettino rotates players, but when he is playing he gathers points.
BEST BARGAIN DEFENDERS
If careful enough, fantasy football players can cobble together a good defence without spending too much of their budget, freeing up money to be devoted elsewhere in the squad.
Sometimes consistent performers do not see their pricetag increased to reflect their actual worth, while other players can have their value decreased after a single disappointing campaign.
So, if you don't want to waste funds on the big-name players, we've taken a look at some of the better fantasy football defenders that can be picked up for relative bargain fees.
Shane Duffy (Brighton - £4.6m)
Chris Hughton's Brighton have begun life in the Premier League in respectable fashion and the foundation for that lies in their defence. Republic of Ireland international Shane Duffy, in particular, is one of the most impressive stoppers in the division this season. Indeed, the former Everton youth tops the clearances charts and is the most dominant aerial presence in the division, meaning there is a good chance of earning bonus points. While he has yet to get off the mark, the 25-year-old also poses a serious threat from set-pieces.
Harry Maguire (Leicester - £5.2m)
A new signing at Leicester, Harry Maguire's form for the Foxes has seen him evolve into an England international and his value has risen to reflect his new-found status. The former Hull City centre-back gets in the way of shots and is a dangerous presence in set-pieces.
Stephen Ward (Burnley - £5.1m)
Republic of Ireland international Stephen Ward is currently in the top 10 scoring defenders in this season's Fantasy Football, posting a higher tally than Phil Jones of Manchester United and Manchester City's Kyle Walker. His early season form is likely to taper off, but it may be worth including him considering his cost.
Phil Jones (Man United £5.3m)
Jose Mourinho has favoured a partnership between Eric Bailly and Phil Jones this season as his Manchester United side sweep all before them. Both players are consistently gathering points for clean sheets, but while Bailly is priced at £6.1m, his partner Jones is cheaper, despite the latter scoring higher.
Ben Mee (Burnley - £4.8m)
Burnley are flying high in the division and they have a formidable back-line to thank for their lofty position. Behind full-back Ward, Ben Mee is the next highest-scoring Burnley defender and he is a good bit cheaper than his colleague.