The cream of the crop
The two topped priced players at £6.5m are Héctor Bellerín and Toby Alderweireld. The former to me is surprising but the latter far less so. The Arsenal full-back scored only once last year but did record six assists. His value though came from a whopping 18 clean sheets. How did a defence with Per Mertesacker and/or Gabriel keep 18 clean sheets? I'm as staggered as you are. The big Belgian at Spurs, meanwhile, bagged four goals with three assists to go with 13 clean sheets. I always like a centre-back with a few goals in them but at £6.5m - I think he's overpriced. I'm not touching Bellerin either.
There are ten players available at £6.0m and I have none of them in my side as it stands. That is a lot of money when there is superb talent at £5.5m and below which I'll get into in the next section. I do expect Chelsea to be very solid under Antonio Conte and Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill are all at this price. Vincent Kompany is a Rolls Royce of a defender but with his injury history, he's not one you can trust long-term (and indeed only has a 50% chance of playing on opening day).
Defence is where you can shop around and save a half million here and half a million there to get better quality in midfield and attack without really harming your team. So move to to the £5.0m-5.5m bracket and start filling your boots...
The middle value
For the defenders I've set the bracket for value in the middle of the market at £5m-5.5m and I want to start with the second player I added to my squad when I first started setting up my team, Luke Shaw (£5.5m). The Manchester United left back missed the majority of last season due to injury but I like him to be one of the stars of the season. He showed glimpses in the Community Shield of overlapping and getting to the by-line, I think he could notch up five assists, a couple of goals and 15+ clean sheets and that would put him in the top five defenders for fantasy this year.
At the same price is an old name but a valuable one, John Terry. The other three members of the expected starting back four for Chelsea are priced at half a million more and I'm not sure why. With an average of 4.8 goals/season over the past five years, Terry can be counted on to get his head to a few corners and free kicks and could easily chip in with a handful of goals. With my expectation for Conte's defence being high. I like Terry here.
Scott Dann is next on my radar with five goals last season, he was a valuable asset down the stretch. With 130 total points last year, he was in the top ten performers for defenders and it wouldn't shock me if he did that again for the 2016/17 season.
At £5.0m we have two players who wouldn't be on my radar but for transfers. John Stones is now playing for a team who don't have the defensive philosophies of Roberto Martinez and that can only be a good thing. With only one Premier League goal in his career, don't expect a plethora of added points on this front but I do foresee plenty of clean sheets. As your third defender you could do a whole lot worse.
Replacing him at Everton looks like a job for Ashley Williams (£5.0m) and he's scored 100+ fantasy points five years straight. He's not a world beater but Ronald Koeman has a good recent history in keeping things tight at the back, so playing in a slightly better team could mean Williams becomes a 130-140 point scorer. One to look at closely.
The high risk/high reward picks
This has to start at Goodison Park with the two full-backs. Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines are both priced lower than last year at £5.5m. We don't need to bang on about their fantasy prowess but a quick reminder that in the 2013/14 season, Coleman scored a whopping 180 fantasy points and Baines takes penalties, free-kicks and corners so racks up the assists as well as chipping in with a few goals. As it stands Baines is on the outside looking in for me but I'm talking myself into bringing him in come Friday night.
The Leicester City boys. Oh what to do about the Leicester City boys? Do we believe that last year was a outlier or do we expect another fine season from Wes Morgan and Robert Huth? I think they slip back a bit and think the loss of Kante shielding that back line will be key. Yet if you still believe then pile in at £5.0m
Who to get in on the cheap
For most of us, we'll be fielding a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation most weeks so we'll be buying two cheap defenders to fill out our squad who can come in for injuries or suspensions. At £4.5m you could do a whole lot worse than Philipp Wollscheid or Erik Pieters of Stoke City. Neither are world beaters but both got 90+ points last year and would be solid in an emergency.
Watch the transfer market though as two £4.5m defenders are being linked with moves to better teams who would surely see their value rise. Jonny Evans to Arsenal has some traction and would make very little sense in real life, yet if it comes to fruition then he'd a good reserve to have. Lamine Koné is being heavily linked with a move to Everton and if that comes through then I think he would be a no-brainer.
I would ignore the top priced defenders and attack the £5.0m-5.5m bracket heavily. This will give you a few extra quid to splash out on creative players. I like defenders who'll chip in with a few goals (Terry, Dann) or will grab assists (Shaw, Baines) as well as playing on teams you would expect to keep a clean sheet 40%+ of the time.
The more I think about it, the more I think Leighton Baines is worth the risk. Roberto Martinez seemed to lose faith in the former England man but if he gets the starting job, he has to be a fantasy star. It would be hard for him not to be.
Players I really don't like start with Vincent Kompany. Those hamstrings fill me with dread. I don't like Per Mertesacker nor any of the Spurs full-backs. Pochettino likes to rotate in this area and therefore they are too big a fantasy risk. There are plenty of Manchester United players at £5.5m, as well and the likes of Marcos Rojo look like they won't be playing too much so best to avoid.
You can read my fantasy Premier League attackers tips and my fantasy Premier League midfielder tips behind the links and I'll be back here on Thursday with my look at goalkeepers.