Cesar Azpilicueta takes top spot for me but in truth, we aren’t sure exactly what role he will play in Sarri’s Chelsea. Many (myself included) believe the new boss will ditch the 3-4-3 system in favour of a 4-3-3, last season’s second highest scoring defender in the Togga format may even gain value as a right back.
While this Spaniard looks likely to shoot to the top of most draft rankings this summer, his compatriot Marcos Alonso looks certain to lose some of his value in a more defensive position. While the shift back from his LWB/LM system doesn’t kill his value completely, he won’t have the license to bomb forwards at will as he has done for the last two years and may even have to do some defending. His expertise from free kicks still makes him an excellent pick this season but he loses his position as the no-brainer, number one defender.
Were it not for rotation, Kieran Trippier be my number one defender in these rankings. This summer’s World Cup demonstrated that he is probably now the best attacking full back in the league and it turns out he can also take a mean free kick. His crossing ability led to 7 assists in 24 appearances in 2017/18 but it is the latter part of that statistic which prevents Trippier from taking top spot. Serge Aurier (who is an excellent FPL option in his own right) will eat into his minutes once again this season and will almost certainly start the season as Tottenham’s right back having had the whole summer off.
In terms of centre backs, you can’t go wrong with Jan Vertonghen and Virgil Van Dijk. As the dominant centre back in their respective pairings they will collect the majority of points for the aerials won and clearances they make. Vertonghen slipped under the radar last season but finished third in the Togga rankings, largely due to the 120 aerials and 166 clearances made.
After an injury hit 2017/18, many will be intrigued to see what Benjamin Mendy can do on the pitch. From the glimpse of him we got last season, it’d be fair to assume that Mendy could be an elite pick going forward.
Great picks in later rounds are what win draft leagues. If you get these defenders right, you can afford to let those mentioned in the previous section go to other managers while you build up your elite midfield/strike force.
Last year’s big story in Togga was Shane Duffy who sneaked into 6th place in the Togga defensive rankings thanks to a whopping 191 aerials won and quite frankly ridiculous 320 clearances. Duffy is someone who isn’t clean sheet dependant and unless others in your league have cottoned on to this, will likely fall to the latter rounds in your draft. Harry Maguire and Christopher Schindler also fall into the Duffy category, although Maguire may have brought a bit more attention on to himself due to his summer exploits.
This year’s potential Duffy goes by the name of Sean Morrison. Like Duffy, Morrison comes up from the Championship and therefore should expect plenty of defensive action in his new surroundings this year. Standing at 6 foot 4, Morrison should expect to win plenty of aerials while he has also demonstrated an eye for goal having scored 7 times from centre back for Cardiff City last season. One to watch.
In terms of players coming in from the shadows, Luke Shaw is being earmarked as Manchester United’s starting left back when the season commences, giving him yet another chance to make the position his own. Sead Kolasinac, who began last year as an incredibly solid FPL option, looks to be favoured over Nacho Monreal by Unai Emery and would be another great option going forward.
Finally, old FPL favourite Seamus Coleman finally looks to be back to full fitness and is well worth a draft spot, particularly under a new manager who favours an attacking style of play.
Draft them late. Focus on filling up your forwards and midfielders first, probably for the first six rounds and don’t panic when the likes of Alonso and Mendy fly off the board. There’s plenty of defenders to go around!