Tuesday, I presented the case for Joe Hart, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Brad Guzan and Petr Cech as the Premier League's stingiest goalkeepers. Up for discussion now, defenders who are walls of protection for their teams and point-producers for their fantasy managers.
Toughest on defense:
Glen Johnson, Liverpool: While only the sixth-highest fantasy point-producer for 2012-13, the England international led the Premier League with 15 clean sheets, five more than the top fantasy defender, Everton’s Leighton Baines. Johnson's 154 fantasy points were only 29 behind leader Baines, remarkable since Baines scored five goals to Johnson's one. Johnson was owned by about 16 percent of fantasy managers.
Daniel Agger, Liverpool: Agger and Johnson were rocks for the Reds. Agger had 152 points in 34 games and recorded 15 clean sheets. A red card cut into his productivity in a season when he scored three goals and conceded 37. Twenty-one percent of fantasy managers owned the Dane.
Per Mertesacker, Arsenal: The German had 15 clean sheets, third behind Johnson and Agger, and only conceded 29 goals, second fewest behind Chelsea's David Luiz who was on the field when only 23 were scored. Mertesacker was the 7th highest point-producer with 153 in 34 matches. One red card hurt his point total.
Leighton Baines, Everton: The previously mentioned Baines had five goals and five assists along with 11 clean sheets that helped with his 183 points in 38 games. More fantasy managers (34 percent) owned Baines than any other defender. One own goal and four yellow cards cut into a remarkable season for the England international, who carried a high 8.3 salary.
Patrice Evra, Manchester United: Evra was owned by 25 percent of fantasy managers and the second-highest point-producer for defenders at 165. He was an expensive player at 8.2, nearly the salary of Baines, but had 18 fewer points (165) and four fewer games. Evra had 10 clean sheets for a United defense that improved in the second half of the season. Four goals and five assists made him an offensive threat.
Sebastien Bassong, Norwich: Bassong had his best Premier League season and ended the year as the best buy. His low 5.7 salary attracted 28 percent of fantasy managers. Although he conceded 40 goals in 34 matches, he had 10 clean sheets and scored three goals with two assists.
Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea: He had 162 points in 2,945 minutes and was owned by 26 percent of fantasy managers. The third-highest point producer for defenders also had a relatively low salary of 7.2, .1 lower than Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen, who had three points less than Ivanovic.
Two other Chelsea defenders were too expensive for what they brought to fantasy managers. David Luiz at 134 points, carried a salary of 8.0 and Ashley Cole, who also had 134 points, was at 7.6.
The worst buys of the season included Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand (7.3 salary, 100 points in 28 games) and Nemanja Vidic (8.1 salary, 79 points in 19 games), Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal (7.1 salary, 51 points in ten games), and Chelsea's John Terry, (7.1 salary, 74 points in 14 games).
A player who had more than his share of hype and then never delivered was Southampton’s Luke Shaw. After TV announcers anointed him as a future England international star, more than 12 percent of fantasy managers jumped on Shaw’s bandwagon. When the season was over, the 17-year-old played in 25 games, but only had 79 points and carried a correspondingly low salary of 4.8.
Up next: defensive midfield specialists.