Fantasy Premier League Tips: The best value defensive players for Project Restart
Holly Shand shares her player defensive picks for Project Restart, with unlimited transfers available for all Fantasy Premier League managers before Gameweek 30+.
The Headline Pick: Matt Doherty (£6.3) - Wolves
While Liverpool have stolen many of the defensive headlines this season, it's Wolves who have plenty to play for in the run-in as they hunt down Champions League qualification. Matt Doherty already has 117 fantasy points this season, with four goals and five assists from wing-back.
Wolves have the kindest fixture schedule of any team when it comes to Project Restart, with just Chelsea in Gameweek 38+ appearing difficult on paper. Wolves have kept eight clean sheets this season, with four of those coming this calendar year.
This upturn in defensive form coincided with a shift in formation to a 3-4-3, which benefited Doherty. Matt Doherty already has 117 fantasy points this season, with four goals and five assists from wing-back.
Wolves are now available to back at 8/1 to finish in the top four this season.
The Budget Pick: Jose Reina (£4.5) - Aston Villa
Aston Villa face an uphill struggle to survive in the Premier League, but backing their goalkeeper isn't a bad idea. There's potential for plenty of save points: he has already amassed 23 saves from seven starts, with every three saves equating to one fantasy point.
Aston Villa have an additional fixture on most sides for the restart, although the fixture schedule looks far from straightforward: facing Chelsea, Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United over the course of their next six fixtures.
Aston Villa have conceded five penalties this season, just two behind leaders Leicester City and Norwich City with seven. Reina already has one Premier League penalty save to his name, and his contribution here could be crucial if Aston Villa are to survive.
You can bet on Aston Villa to stay up this season at odds of 15/8.
The VAR Pick: Matt Ritchie (£5.3) - Newcastle
Newcastle have a fantastic set of fixtures to end the season, particularly over the next four games; facing Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and West Ham. They'll be looking to hit the magic 40 point mark in this period, sitting just 5 points off that target right now.
Newcastle are another side who've improved defensively this calendar year. They now sit on nine clean sheets, with four of those coming within their eight matches in 2020. This solidarity has been boosted by the return of some key players from injury, including Matt Ritchie.
Listed as a defender, he's predominantly played in midfield and is Newcastle's penalty taker. He's started six games this season and has huge fantasy potential given his out of position status. If VAR dishes out a lot of penalties during the restart, Ritchie could benefit.
The Sleeper Pick: Bernd Leno (£5.0) - Arsenal
If you are shopping for a goalkeeper for the double gameweek, Bernd Leno should be high in your considerations. It's been a tricky season for Arsenal, but they have been much improved under Mikel Arteta and hopeful to continue this form after the restart.
The Manchester City fixture in the double gameweek will be intriguing and tricky, with Arteta facing former colleague Pep Guardiola. Beyond that, the Gunners face Brighton, Southampton and Norwich so there's plenty of potential for clean sheets there.
Arsenal kept three clean sheets in their final four games before the pause button was hit on Premier League action. Leno amassed 13 saves over that period and seems to finally have some much-needed confidence.
The Wildcard Pick: John Lundstram (£4.9) - Sheffield United
A legend of the season so far, John Lundstram has been a permanent pick in many fantasy squads for the entire season. He was a gift, priced at £4.0 million, at the start of the season, bizarrely listed as a defender having always played in midfield.
He saw fire sales at the start of the calendar year, having seen some rotation and early substitutions. However, he looked to have reclaimed his spot in early March, with a 12 point haul against Norwich, including a clean sheet.
Lundstram now has eight attacking returns for the season, four goals and four assists. Sheffield United are also one of four sides to have an extra fixture, facing Aston Villa in Double Gameweek 30+. This defence has kept ten clean sheets this season and have the kindest pair of Double Gameweek fixtures, also facing Newcastle United.
Sheffield United are 17/1 to finish in the top four.