Fantasy Football watchlist: Ivanovic and four more defenders you must sign

Russell Cane delivers the first of his five-part Fantasy Football Watchlist. Here are five defenders you must consider

There’s less than a week to go to finalise your fantasy football team… Still tinkering?

Having played fantasy football for the past 18 years and collecting 25 national prizes in games such as the Sun DreamTeam, Telegraph, SkySports and the Daily Mail, this columnish now works for Opta-powered fantasy football game www.oulala.com, who will be launching a new daily version of their game very soon.

Whatever fantasy football game you play, whether your aim is to win your work or pub league or you’re going for a national prize, the basics are inevitably the same. Pick the best players and avoid the dross. Your starting XI (or squad) is pivotal in how your season pans out. You want to get one up on your friends and work colleagues, right?

With budget restrictions it’s not as simple as packing your side out with superstars. Sure, your team needs a core of top players who will deliver consistent points. However, identifying who offers the best value, which players you may have overlooked and how players may perform for their new clubs, are some of the factors that come into play when picking your initial side.

Here are five defenders that will give you a head-start over your rivals from day one.

Defenders

Must Have

Branislav Ivanovic The Chelsea right-back scores goals, collects assists and picks up his fair share of clean sheets. Unlike John Terry and Gary Cahill who have Kurt Zouma challenging for game-time, his only real threat is Cesar Azpilicueta, who already plays left-back.

New Kid On The Block

Matteo Darmian Impressing in pre-season, it seems the Italian will slot straight in at right-back for Manchester United, at the expense of Antonio Valencia. With an attacking prowess and defensively astute in equal measures, the 25-year-old appears to be a solid fantasy pick next season.

Approach With Caution

Gary Cahill With youngster Kurt Zouma impressing last season and rumblings that Everton centre-back John Stones is still on Jose Mourinho’s wishlist, the England international may see a drop in game-time next season. Premium priced players must play week in, week out. Be wary.

Under The Radar

Joleon Lescott Defenders that might not have entered your plans could be West Brom’s. Under the guidance of the defensively-minded Tony Pulis, the likes of Joleon Lescott, Craig Dawson and Gareth McAuley should push on from impressive displays last term. Early doors sees games against Chelsea and Man City.. watch out.

Bargain Buy

Cedric Soares Brought in as a replacement to Nathaniel Clyne, the right-back looks set to be a certain starter in one of the league’s tightest defences. With Champions League and Europa League experience last season for Sporting Lisbon, his quality outweighs his price-tag in every fantasy game.

Alan Shearer (Photo: BBC Sport / Screengrab)
‘Just too good’: Alan Shearer heaps praise on Chelsea FC trio
Gabriel Martinelli
Mikel Arteta sends fresh message to Arsenal fans about Gabriel Martinelli
Paul Merson
Paul Merson: Harry Kane would be 'perfect' for Man United
Kai Havertz
‘I have to’: Kai Havertz makes vow to Chelsea FC fans
Mason Mount
Thomas Tuchel makes bold prediction about Mason Mount at Chelsea FC
Alan Shearer (Photo: BBC Sport / Screengrab)
‘Just too good’: Alan Shearer heaps praise on Chelsea FC trio
Gabriel Martinelli
Mikel Arteta sends fresh message to Arsenal fans about Gabriel Martinelli
Paul Merson
Paul Merson: Harry Kane would be 'perfect' for Man United
Kai Havertz
‘I have to’: Kai Havertz makes vow to Chelsea FC fans
Mason Mount
Thomas Tuchel makes bold prediction about Mason Mount at Chelsea FC
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature