FPL transfer guide: Goalkeepers and defenders to consider for your squad
Here are some of the best defensive options for your Fantasy Premier League team, along with a few potentially-profitable punts.
As the anticipation ramps up ahead of the new Premier League options, here are some options to consider for the seven defensive spots in your FPL squad.
Cheap (£4.0m - £4.5m)
Eldin Jakupovic (£4.0M)
Unless Hull City sign another keeper, Jakupovic is likely to assume the No 1 berth as first-choice Allan McGregor is sidelined until the New Year.
However, Hull's pre-season injury problems across the sqaud are well documented. At current count, they have just 14 first-team players available for selection.
If you choose to go with the Swiss international, it may be an idea to pair him with one of the expensive options between the sticks.
Ben Foster (£4.5m)
The West Brom stopper has experienced a price drop coming into the 2016/17 season, off the back of an injury-hit campaign.
While Pulis' team, annoyingly, broke the mould last season by keeping more clean sheets away (6) than at home (5), Foster's price and certain starting spot make him an attractive option.
As discussed in the pre-season guide, pairing two cheap keepers whose fixtures offer fantasy managers mostly home games can be a profitable tactic. With the Baggies playing just one of last season's top six in the opening six gameweeks, Foster is certainly an FPL squad-rotation candidate.
Fraser Forster (£5.0m)
A fairly kind opening schedule pits Southampton against Watford (a), Sunderland (h) and Swansea (h) in their opening five fixtures.
While the Saints find themselves under new management, the team's backline should remain largely the same as last season. While right-back is a problem area for fantasy managers in rotation terms, all three of Virgil van Dijk, Jose Fonte and Ryan Bertrand should start in a five-man defence with Forster.
The England stopper is the cheapest of the quartet, meaning if you can find a keeper to pair him with to avoid Southampton's tricky early away fixtures to Manchester United and Arsenal, he could represent a bargain.
Hugo Lloris (£5.5m)
The most expensive keepers in FPL this year come in at a reasonable £5.5m, so depending on how you set your squad up there may be room for an expensive option.
Like Forster, Lloris offers the safest route into the backline of a team with a decent opening set of fixtures – Spurs travel to Everton, Stoke and Middlesborough while hosting Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Sunderland across the first six gameweeks.
While Kyle Walker is available for the same price as the France keeper, a Champions League campaign means the threat of rotation looms around the England full-back. If you want a piece of a backline that conceded a joint league-low 35 goals last season, Lloris might be the perfect option.
Cheap (£4.0m - £4.5m)
Brad Smith (£4.0m)
Bournemouth snapped up the left-back from Liverpool for a reported £6million fee this month, with the outlay suggesting that the Australia international will push for starts.
Displacing Charlie Daniels is highly unlikely, with the Cherries' resident left-back having become a fantasy darling last season as he took on penalty duties in Callum Wilson's absence.
However, with Adam Smith injured and Tyrone Mings yet to return from a season-ending injury sustained last year, Bournemouth are in need of a temporary solution at right-back.
Simon Francis can revert to the position but with Steve Cook the only recognised centre-half at the club, there is certainly room for opportunity for the kindly-priced Smith as Francis will begin the season in central defence.
Pape Souare (£4.5m)
With 34 Premier League starts last season, Souare should have the Crystal Palace left-back spot nailed down while being at least £0.5m cheaper than any other definite starter.
The signing of James Tompkins, who can operate at right-back, may mean that Souare has a heightened rotation threat as Joel Ward can operate on the left while Martin Kelly is also in the mix.
Alan Pardew's side managed just eight clean sheets last season but with a decent opening schedule that includes ties against West Brom (a), Bournemouth (h) and Middlesborough (a), Souare could be a great FPL squad-rotation option if Palace tighten up at the back.
Sam Byram (£4.5m)
This would be a punt. With Aaron Cresswell ruled out until late November due a knee injury, West Ham United are direly short on full-backs.
Step forward Sam Byram. The former Leeds star joined Slaven Bilic's operation in January, making two starts and two substitute appearances for the Hammers.
A right-back by trade, Byram is currently the only recognised full-back in the West Ham squad. Michail Antonio will operate on the right side of defence for Bilic's team but he is classified on FPL (and in real life) as a midfielder.
If Byram can successfully take over the left-back role, he would represent a steal at £4.5m for the team who finished seventh in last season's Premier League. If the Hammers do invest in a specialist left-back to account for Cresswell's loss, scrap this idea immediately.
Mid-price (£5.0m - £5.5m)
Leighton Baines (£5.5m)
There are high hopes for Everton's defence this season under Ronald Koeman, after an appalling 2015/16 campaign which saw the Toffees concede 55 times.
Left-back Baines is kindly priced after last season's 12th place finish but still has the potential to deliver excellent points hauls. Koeman's Southampton made a relatively poor start last season before roaring back to finish sixth, becoming defensively more solid as the season went on.
After a tough opening home game against Spurs, Everton playing West Brom (a), Stoke (h), Sunderland (a), Boro (h) and Bournemouth (a). While it is tempting to play a wait-and-see game with Koeman's side, investing in Baines from the off could be a canny tactic - particularly if the manager lets it be known who his first-choice penalty taker is and/or Romelu Lukaku leaves Goodison Park this summer.
Luke Shaw (£5.5m)
Much like Conte at Chelsea, Mourinho's arrival at Manchester United is associated with a mean defence. It's hard to see how they could improve in that regard under the Special One, however, having racked up 18 clean sheets last season.
The return of Shaw should mean a United defender that can provide consistent attacking returns though. The left-back managed an assist in his five league starts last season, while his regular forays forward will be remembered by FPL managers and United fans alike.
Returning from his season-ending injury, fitness is the issue to consider when mulling over Shaw's purchase. Away fixtures against Bournemouth, Hull and Watford in the opening five games for Mourinho's men are an enticing prospect, however.
Expensive (£6.0m - £6.5m)
With only John Terry available at less than £6.0m among Chelsea's fit likely starters, it may be wise for those wishing to invest in the London club's defence to splash out the extra £0.5m.
Spain international Azpilicueta scored as many times as Branislav Ivanovic last season (2) while providing two more assists (5 v 3) than his teammate.
With N'Golo Kante now protecting the defence, Chelsea's clean sheet potential should be much heightened from last year's desperate showing. A return to the miserly defence of 2014/15 would certainly be welcomed by fantasy managers.
Should Antonio Conte bring in another centre-half, with Lazio's Kalidou Koulibaly heavily linked, Terry's appeal lessens while Azpilicueta is expected to nail down the left-back berth ahead of Baba Rahman.
Hector Bellerin (£6.5m)
An outlay of £6.5m is validly expected by FPL managers to come with attacking returns. There is no doubt that Arsenal's Spanish full-back offers these in abundance.
The top scoring defender in FPL last season with 172 points, Bellerin's raids from the right produced six assists and one goal while he was part of each of Arsenal's 18 clean sheets.
Wenger's men have a mixed opening schedule and with Gabriel at £1.5m cheaper than his counterpart, Bellerin could be overlooked. However, returns in the opening GWs would likely see the right-back's price rise, which could render him unaffordable for most managers.