Premier League fantasy success largely depends on point-producing midfielders and forwards; those positions give the bulk of points. However, the difference between mid-table in a league or challenging for the top often is the performance of goalkeepers and defenders. There will be new players to consider when the 2013-14 fantasy season is launched around July 25. And as often happens, there will be players who will lift their game to another level with a year of Premier League experience. Here is a look at goalkeepers from last season who kept opponents at bay and rewarded their fantasy managers:Joe Hart, Manchester City: I could never figure out the criticism that was leveled at the England international. OK, Manchester City did not win the PL title; however, in 38 games, Hart had 18 clean sheets and conceded only 34 goals, tied for the best record of goalkeepers who played more than 30 games. His fantasy point total was 178, tops among PL keepers. He was helped by a solid defensive line, as evidenced in his making only 78 saves compared with one goalkeeper who had more than double that amount. Hart had one penalty save and was given only one yellow card. Hart was the top fantasy point-producer with 178 and was owned by about 16 percent of fantasy managers. His fantasy salary of 6.9 was .4 less than Petr Cech, who had 15 fewer fantasy points. Jussi Jaaskelainen, West Ham: In 38 games played, the Hammers' 38-year-old keeper could be forgiven for thinking he was on a target range and had a bulls-eye on his jersey. He had 166 saves, most in the league. While he conceded 53 goals compared with Hart's 34, JJ's fantasy point total was 171, just seven less than Hart’s. He had 11 clean sheets and two yellow cards. His salary was 6.9 and he was owned by about 12 percent of fantasy managers. Brad Guzan, Aston Villa: The American was the bargain goalkeeper of the season. In 36 games, he had 131 points while carrying a puny 4.9 salary. His Villa defenders at times were indefensible as reflected in Guzan’s 114 saves, including one penalty save. The downside for Guzan was he surrendered 65 goals. Released by Villa in 2012, he came back under Paul Lambert and was named Player of the Year in 2012-13. Petr Cech, Chelsea: Cech’s 36 games brought a good fantasy point total of 163; however, he was pricey at 7.4, highest among goalkeepers. Cech had 14 clean sheets and conceded only 36 goals. On the flip side, there were goalkeepers who performed below what they had shown in the past. They are: Tim Howard, Everton: The American’s point total was 147, 41 points below Hart, yet his salary of 6.6 was only .3 under Hart. Howard played 36 games and had 91 saves. He kept 10 clean sheets, conceded 39 goals, and made no penalty saves. Pepe Reina, Liverpool: Reina had a spotty campaign, as did the Reds. He had 138 fantasy points in 31 games with a fairly high salary of 6.4. Reina had 14 clean sheets. Noteworthy: -The goalkeeper owned by the most fantasy managers (nearly 22 percent) was Stoke’s Asmir Begovic. He had 158 points with a 5.7 salary, played in 38 games, and had 158 fantasy points with 12 clean sheets. -Probably the best bargain for points and salary was Sunderland GK Simon Mignolet, who was owned by about 18 percent of fantasy managers. Although he gave up 54 goals, he played 38 matches, had 149 saves, and 11 clean sheets. Mignolet has now signed with Liverpool, so we shall see what happens in the competition between Reina and the Belgian. -At the end of the season, more than 16 percent of fantasy managers owned Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel. In 14 matches he had 59 points and carried a salary of only 4.2 -- a good choice as a fantasy bench GK.
Next: the PL’s stingiest defenders and midfielders.