Do you need expensive defenders in your January wild card Fantasy Football team?

Do you need expensive defenders in your January wild card Fantasy Football team?

Defenders, who needs them? Why spend money on them? Why put expensive defenders in your January wild card Fantasy Football team?

The thing that annoys me most playing Fantasy Football is when you bench a cheap defender who’s playing a top 4 team, and in his place you play the clean-sheet dead-cert defender playing a bottom 4 team, only for, well, you know what happens next…

There sometimes seems to be no rhyme or reason behind clean sheets, and some of the time there isn’t, a bad performance, awful conditions or a player rested / benched. There are many factors that can’t be influenced by a team and their tactics.

However, there are patterns that emerge when you do a little bit of digging, a bit of research. So a few weeks ago when Chorley asked me to update an old article I was more than happy to jump straight in.

The article I was sent looked at the pattern of “significantly more clean sheets happening in the second half of Premier League seasons”. My article will provide an update including data for this season, and I will dig deeper to help you build your wildcard defence.


Is the second half a little tighter?

In 8 out of 9 of the premier league seasons (2004 – 2012 ) there were more clean sheets in the second half of the campaigns. Looking at the table and graph below, there is resounding evidence to show that clean sheets, not only increase, but significantly so.

Season 1st Half CS 2nd Half CS % increase 2nd Half CS
2004/05 99 120 21.2%
2005/06 116 128 10.3%
2006/07 117 116 -0.9%
2007/08 99 119 20.2%
2008/09 108 139 28.7%
2009/10 93 128 37.6%
2010/11 91 100 9.9%
2011/12 94 112 19.1%
2012/13 95 105 10.5%
2013/14 118  –  –

Clean Sheet Chart 1

The average is 17.4% more clean sheets in the second half of the season than in the first half of the season.

So what does this mean?

Well, it means you should take more attention to your defence when playing your wildcard; maybe cut less corners to make sure you have all the “must have strikers and midfielders”; and that a couple of good defenders can be a differential and give you a starting base for your big-guys who will perform up top.

This is true this season more than ever because defenders are magnets for Bonus Points. High pass-completion rates and other factors mean a clean-sheet defender will be favoured in the bonus point system, regardless of if a striker has scored.

Where do clean sheets happen?

Now, this may seem obvious, but clean sheets really are more likely to happen at home. But how much more likely? The home advantage has been documented for years – I even did my dissertation about it.

If you look at the table and graph below, they show that more clean sheets happen at home compared to away. The ‘CS Home vs Away’ column shows the ratio of how many clean sheets occur at home compared to away.

Season Home CS Away CS % CS @ Home CS Home VS Away
2004/05 135 84 0.616 1.6
2005/06 151 93 0.619 1.6
2006/07 134 99 0.575 1.4
2007/08 115 92 0.556 1.3
2008/09 146 101 0.591 1.4
2009/10 138 83 0.624 1.7
2010/11 126 65 0.66 1.9
2011/12 125 81 0.607 1.5
2012/13 116 84 0.58 1.4
2013/14 69 49 0.585 1.4

Clean Sheet Chart 2

This shows the importance of rotating pairs with defenders and goalkeepers, especially from teams less likely to get clean sheets away from home.

So who do I pick?


I will use the data collected from the first half the season to try and help you build your defence.

The table below shows the defensive Points Per Game (‘PPG’) average for the first 20 games of the season collectively, Home and Away. It does not show bonus points or goals. It does however take into account the average number of games where 2 or more goals are conceded (-1) and yellow cards (-1).

The sections named PPG, ‘Home PPG’ and ‘Away PPG’ use the first half of the season clean sheets to show each team’s average. ‘Pot PPG’, ‘Home Pot PPG’ and ‘Away Pot PPG’ shows you the potential averages – what you should expect if the second half of the season replicates the first.

Team PPG Home PPG Away PPG Pot PPG Home Pot PPG Away Pot PPG
Arsenal 3.2 3.8 2.6 5 5 5
Aston Villa 2.6 2.2 3 3.4 3.4 3.4
Cardiff City 2.4 2.6 2.2 3 3 3
Chelsea 2.8 2.6 3 4.6 5 4.2
Crystal Palace 2.4 2.6 2.2 3.4 3.8 3
Everton 3 3 3 4.4 4.6 4.2
Fulham 2 2.2 1.8 3 3 3
Hull City 2.6 3.8 1.4 3.8 5 2.6
Liverpool 2.6 3 2.2 4 5.4 2.6
Man City 2.8 3.8 1.8 4 5 3
Man Utd 2.4 2.6 2.2 4 4.2 3.8
Newcastle Utd 2.6 2.6 2.6 4.2 4.6 3.8
Norwich City 2.6 2.6 2.6 3.8 4.2 3.4
Southampton 2.8 3 2.6 4.2 4.2 4.2
Stoke City 2.6 3 2.2 4 5 3
Sunderland 2.4 2.2 2.6 3.4 3.4 3.4
Swansea City 2.4 2.6 2.2 3.8 3 4.6
Spurs 3 3 3 4.4 4.2 4.6
WBA 2.4 2.6 2.2 3.8 3.8 3.8
West Ham 3 3 3 3.6 3.4 3.8

The values we need to look at are ‘Pot PPG’, ‘Home Pot PPG’ and ‘Away Pot PPG’ which assumes that the cleans sheets and games where teams lost by just a single goal from game weeks 1 – 18 will be repeated in game weeks 19 – 38.

Now we know this is not exact, and each Crystal Palace defender will not score exactly 72.2 points in the second half of the season. But the table is indicative and 3.8 points per game is the potential you should reasonably expect.

My Picks

High Potential Points Per Game

The defenders you select week-in week-out should be from those teams in the “Pot PPG” section that score 4.0 PPG or more. If you’re feeling lucky or strapped for cash drop to 3.8PPG.

These 4.0 PPG teams are the ones that can be expected to perform both home and away, or well enough home or away to justify playing every game. These are also the teams you should get your goal keeper from if you don’t plan on rotating.

  • Arsenal
  • Chelsea
  • Everton
  • Spurs
  • Newcastle
  • Southampton
  • Man City
  • Man Utd
  • Liverpool
  • Stoke

When building your team I would advise you select at least 2 defenders from this group.

An Arsenal defender is a must in my opinion when building your wildcard team; their Pot PPG is absolutely ridiculous and you can still pick up an Arsenal defender quite cheap (Sagna, Koscielny and Gibbs). Depending on the money you have will depend on where your next defender comes from, Chelsea and Everton both have a high Pot PPG, but their defenders are quite expensive, so I believe you need attacking potential thrown in.

I would recommend a defender from Liverpool they have the highest Home Pot PPG of any team in the league, they have yet to concede more than one goal at home this season. Man City should also be in your consideration, but I’d stick to the attacking full backs, Zabaleta being the main protagonist. I would only look at Evans or Evra at Man Utd, but be weary.

I would give a high recommendation to pick a defender from Spurs, they have a really good potential and they would be a great differential. Dawson would be my recommendation at just 12% selection.

Newcastle and Stoke offer both good Pot PPG, but the differential they offer will be a huge boost in your mini leagues, and help you save cash for elsewhere in your team. They could even be your third defender to boost your two more expensive one or a cheaper none rotating goalkeeper.

Southampton offer real value with Clyne, Fonte and Shaw, and I would expect a resurgence from their defensive prowess.

Arsenal v Manchester City

Good Home Pot PPG

Defenders that you will look to rotate for home fixtures (or bench fodder) should be picked from the next group that score 3.4PPG or more. These are also where you should look to find goalkeepers if you plan on rotating them.

  • Norwich
  • Crystal Palace
  • Hull City
  • West Brom
  • West Ham
  • Aston Villa
  • Sunderland

Norwich, Hull City & Crystal Palace all offer very good Home Pot PPG scores, you should look closely at these teams for your rotating pairs, especially goalkeepers. In particular Hull City, who have been formidable at home and have the equal best home record with Arsenal for the first half of the season.

I believe that West Brom’s defenders are too costly to rotate, and West Ham has too many injuries at the moment to look at.

Aston Villa offered value in Baker, but I am unsure if he will keep his spot. So Vlaar is your only choice here in my eyes. Now Sunderland intrigue me they look like the have potential, especially if Brown can stay on the pitch. Bardsley is the obvious choice, but keep an eye on Celustka.

I hope this article helps you build your wild card team from the back. If you have any questions or your own view on who to pick, please feel free to comment below.

257 thoughts on “Do you need expensive defenders in your January wild card Fantasy Football team?

  1. Thinking of playing my Jan WC early as I can barely afford this team – this is the longer term goal, would sub in perhaps Giroud (if healthy) until Aguero is back, possibly Gerard or Erisksen for Walcott until he returns, and then Lallana for Cabeye if he is going to be out this week. Interested in your thoughts both on the timing and team structure, plus temporary subs. If I end up waiting and price rises occur on Silva, Adebayor, Ward, etc., then I would have to downgrade Mert to Kos, which wouldn’t be too bad either. Thanks in advance, and Happy New Year!

    Click to enlarge image

  2. “@SkySportsNews: Arsenal’s Theo Walcott ruled out for at least six months with knee injury.

    I guess the season is over for Walcott. I have to move to Plan B.

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