Who are the best 4.5 defenders in FPL 2023-24? We’re here to help you find out!
Every season there’s a new crop of 4.5 defenders in FPL, some prove to be underpriced gems whilst others live up to their budget price tags. We’re here to help you identify which 4.5 defenders you should target for the 2023-24 FPL season and help you avoid any potential traps.
This article analyses all of the main 4.5 defenders individually, before finishing with tables of underlying statistics and point breakdowns.
Free FPL Newsletter
If we could only give you 1 piece of advice ahead of Gameweek 2 it would be to subscribe to Lazy FPL. They condense hours of expert Fantasy Premier League research into a 4-min email sent 24 hours before every gameweek deadline.
The Best 4.5 Defenders in FPL 2023-24
Sven Botman & Tyrone Mings have established themselves as the popular choices since the launch of Fantasy Premier League 2023-24. This was predictable as the pair were the highest scoring last season and both play for teams that finished in the top 7. So before delving into the rest, let’s analyse these two.
Sven Botman (NEW)
Sven Botman has emerged as the most popular choice when it comes to 4.5 defenders in FPL 2023-24. It’s very rare to find a 4.5m defender from a team who last season had the joint best defence in the league in terms of goals conceded (33) and the second best in terms of expected goals conceded (41.86).
One positive that is overlooked with Botman is that he doesn’t lose many points over the course of the season. From 36 league appearances last season, he only picked up 2 yellow cards (-2) and conceded 2 goals on 5 occasions (-5).
If you think that Newcastle will remain defensively solid again this season then Botman should be set-and-forget for you. If you don’t think Newcastle will be racking up the clean sheets again, then he’s perhaps not a great option seeing as 89.78% of his points came from minutes played & clean sheets last season.
Tyrone Mings (AVL)
What will have the highest ownership this year, Tyrone Mings as an FPL player or “Stranger Mings” as an FPL team name? At the moment its neck and neck, with both proving to be very popular.
Mings featured for 90 minutes in 35 games last season, tallying up the second most minutes in the Aston Villa squad behind centre-back partner Ezri Konsa. The arrival of Pau Torres could disrupt this partnership however, with many expecting him to displace Konsa as apposed to Mings.
Both Torres & Mings are left footed centre-backs, which will mean one will be forced to play on their weaker side. Depending on how they adjust, this could eventually impact Mings’ playing time.
Last season, Mings had very well rounded returns in FPL. Unlike the aforementioned Botman, Mings collected 32.00% of his points from clean sheets, 10.00% from goals/assists and 11.33% from bonuses.
Sven Botman or Tyrone Mings?
Both players started 35 matches and achieved an almost identical amount of clean sheets and points. But that’s where the similarities end.
One thing that immediately stands out is the amount of points that Mings must have been deducted to finish 1 point ahead of Botman despite picking up an extra goal, assist and 9 more bonus points.
Mings was deducted -7 points from yellow cards, -2 for an own goal and -11 from conceding 2 goals on 11 occasions. A total of -20 compared to Botman’s -7. So whilst Mings scores more points than Botman, he loses more than double.
Mings finished the season with 1 goal (0.96 xG) and 3 assists (0.95 xA), whilst Botman finished the season with 0 goals (2.75 xG) and 2 assists (1.09 xA). As far as expected stats are concerned, Mings was lucky to get 2 of his assists and Botman was unlucky to not score twice.
Whilst last seasons underlying statistics imply that Botman will emerge the better option over the course of the 2023-24 FPL season, one thing that remains unlikely is that he’ll outdo Mings on bonus points. Last season Mings earned 17 bonus points from a total underlying BPS score of 617, whilst Botman earned 8 bonus points from an underlying BPS score of 666.
Simply put, Botman plays for a harder team to score bonus points in. Only Haaland & Kane scored more bonus points than his teammate Kieran Trippier last season.
READ MORE: Best Premium Goalkeepers in FPL 2023-24.
One reason you might see people argue Mings over Botman is due to the opening six fixtures, which when looking at the ever-optimistic FDR on the FPL website, it favours Aston Villa over Newcastle.
If you plan to use your 4.5 defender in the first 3 weeks of the season before deploying an early wildcard, then there’s certainly a case for Mings. If you can remain content with your 4.5 defender on the bench for the opening 3 weeks, then you probably want Botman. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Unless you’re sprinting towards a very early wildcard.
Analysing The Popular 4.5 FPL Defenders
James Tarkowski shrugs off his impostor syndrome and joins more 4.5 defenders from the top half of the table, in the next crop of popular (but less popular than Mings & Botman) budget options at the back.
Rico Henry (BRE)
Rico Henry is back for his third season in FPL and is once against priced at 4.5m. Last season he started 37 of Brentford’s 38 matches, alternating between left-back and left wing-back, making three assists in the process.
Brentford ranked 5th for fewest goals conceded last season, and whilst they were quite unpredictable on the road, they had a very good record at home. They managed 7 clean sheets on home soil, with notable shutouts recorded against Man United, Man City, Chelsea & Brighton.
He averaged at 0.12 xGI per 90 over the course of the season, which is solid considering he played 3,238 minutes.
Matty Cash (AVL)
There was high hopes for Matty Cash last year, following the 21-22 campaign that saw him tally up 147 points thanks to 13 clean sheets, 4 goals and 3 assists. Valued at 5.0 last season, he failed to live up expectations, largely due to multiple injuries that affected his game time, fitness and form.
He ended the season with 2 assists, and an xGI per 90 of 0.05, less than half of the season before (0.14). If he can stay fit this season and return to his previous form then he’s a bargain at 4.5. The departure of Ashley Young also means that he’s likely nailed on at right-back unless Aston Villa sign a replacement.
Dan Burn (NEW)
Similar to what we said about Sven Botman, Dan Burn’s ownership can be largely accredited to the fact that he’s a cheap route into one of the leagues best defences.
The pair finished on identical points last season and also both averaged an xGI per 90 of 0.10. There is very little to separate the two both in terms of returns and underlying statistics.
One thing that is very different is their ownership percentage going into the 2023-24 season, with a cavernous gap of almost 30% between the two. Whilst some would argue this makes Burn a good differential, the more experienced player would not take the risk at this point in the season.
James Tarkowski (EVE)
James Tarkowski was the only defender to play every minute of every game in the Premier League last season. So if you’re looking for somebody nailed on, you’ve found your man, even if he does play for Everton.
Whilst he only managed 1 goal and 1 assist last season, his underlying statistics were very strong, averaging 0.16 xGI per 90 – the joint highest of all the 4.5 defenders.
His opening six fixtures are considered relatively friendly from an FPL FDR perspective, however, Everton leaked chances last season with the third highest xGA (68.58).
TLDR: He’s nailed, he’s a goal threat, he has ok fixtures, but he plays for Everton.
The Best Differential 4.5 Defenders
Now we’ve analysed the budget 4.5 FPL defenders that are on most managers radars, it’s now time to take a look at the best differentials. At the time of writing, this section contains defenders with ownership ranging from 0.2% to 2.0%. Some of these players are solid options, whilst others come with some strings attached.
Ethan Pinnock (BRE)
It’s a bit of a surprise to see that Ethan Pinnock has substantially lower ownership than his teammate Rico Henry. The pair both finished on 112 points last season, but Pinnock started 7 fewer matches.
Pinnock played every minute of every game from GW10 to GW38. He managed 3 goals in this time, benefitting from being the main target of set-piece situations. His xGI per 90 was 0.13 last season, which is one of the highest from this year’s 4.5 defenders.
Brentford have a favourable run of opening fixtures with 3 home games in their first 4 matches. If you’re opting for a Brentford defender and want a slight differential to Rico Henry, Pinnock is your man.
Kenny Tete (FUL)
Despite an injury setback that ruled him out for October of last season, Kenny Tete returned and reestablished himself as the nailed on right-back, making 31 appearances for Fulham.
Last season he managed 1 goal and 5 assists which accounted for 19.09% of his overall points.
One drawback with Tete is that he loves a yellow card, picking up 8 in the season just gone. He did become more disciplined as the season progressed, with only 2 of the 8 yellows coming in the second half of the season.
Tete seems to be thriving in Marco Silva’s system and has been instrumental in Fulham’s rise. His performances last season caught the attention of several clubs, with Liverpool reportedly interested in the Dutchman.
Nayef Aguerd (WHU)
After recovering from an ankle injury that ruled him out of the start of the season, Nayef Aguerd hit the ground running for West Ham, establishing himself as a reliable centre back that also poses an attacking threat.
Aguerd averaged an xGI per 90 of 0.15 last season, finding the net on two occasions, including the winning goal in a 1-0 victory of Southampton in GW29. Before arriving at West Ham, Aguerd averaged 4 G+A in two successive seasons for Rennes.
Last season he was given a debut FPL value of 5.0, which has been reduced this season due to his lack of points last season (due to injury). Available at a discount price, Aguerd could prove a bargain defender for FPL 2023-24.
Joachim Andersen (CRY)
All of the Crystal Palace defensive assets are priced at 4.5m or below for FPL 2023-24. There’s not much that separates the bunch, but after comparing Tyrick Mitchell and Mark Guéhi, we’ve opted for Joachim Andersen.
Last season he averaged an average xGI per 90 of 0.10, which is double that of both Mitchell and Guéhi. One drawback of Andersen, like teammate Guéhi, is that he propensity for picking up yellows, with 8 last season.
Guéhi is a good pick if you want somebody that you can guarantee plays every week, whilst Mitchell seems to be slightly more favoured by the bonus points system. Based on the underlying statistics though, it’s Andersen for us.
READ MORE: Best Budget Goalkeepers In FPL 2023-24.
Aaron Cresswell (WHU)
Another player who has dropped in price this season is Aaron Cresswell, who is now available for 4.5m for the first time after being priced between 5.0-5.5 for the last 9 seasons in FPL.
Whilst Cresswell has begun to see some rotation due to age and involvement in Europe, his assist potential in unparalleled in the 4.5 region. Despite getting just 1 assist, last season was his second best in terms of expected assists, with 3.7 xA and an xA per 90 of 0.18.
In the 19-20 season Cresswell made 0 assists, the following season he made 8, benefitting heavily from West Ham efficiency in front of goal. If West Ham improve in attack this year, Cresswell could emerge as a bargain at 4.5 for different periods this season.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (MUN)
Aaron Wan-Bissaka shared the right-back spot with Diogo Dalot last season, with Dalot nailed on prior to the World Cup and Wan-Bissaka afterwards. Should Man United not sign a new right-back next season, the pair will continue fighting for this position.
Ten Hag has helped nurture Wan-Bissaka since taking over, clearly defining the responsibilities of his role and positioning on the pitch. Wan-Bissaka is known as a player with strong defensive capabilities but limited going forward. This said, his xGI per 90 increased from 0.06 to 0.14 last season, even if it didn’t result in any goals or assists.
Whilst we don’t recommend Wan-Bissaka for GW1, he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. Opting for him as a differential over Luke Shaw (over 30% ownership) would be too audacious at this point in the season.
Joël Veltman (BHA)
Similarly to Wan-Bissaka, it’s hard to recommend Veltman when he has a team-mate with such mammoth ownership. As it stands, Estupiñán is the most owned defender in the game, with over 50% of FPL opting for him. If you want a Brighton defender, which you do because they opening fixtures are second to none, then you don’t really have a choice but going for Estupiñán.
That said, Joël Veltman presents an interesting option at 4.5m. Last season he was used as a centre back as part of a back three, or right-back as part of a back four. Across 31 matches he managed 1 goal and 1 assist, with an xGI per 90 of 0.10.
Ben Davies (TOT)
Ben Davies is a very bold differential for us to include as we’re yet to know his role under new boss Ange Postecoglou. Last season he made 31 appearances (27 as centre back, 5 as left wing-back and 3 as left back) and managed 2 goals and 2 assists.
Depending on how Spurs perform under their new boss, and if Ben Davies has a role to play, he could prove a cheap route into their back line. Last season he averaged an xGI per 90 of 0.14.
Elsewhere at Spurs, Emerson Royal (0.12 xGI per 90) and Destiny Udogie – who returned from a very productive loan spell at Udinese (3 goals and 4 assists) – are also worth keeping an eye on.
4.5m FPL Defenders Underlying Statistics
The table below shows the underlying statistics of all of the defenders mentioned above, sorted by xGI per 90.
4.5 FPL Defender Points Breakdown
The table below includes the 30 highest scoring defenders from last season who are valued at 4.5m for the 2023-24 season. It shows what percentage of their total points comes from minutes, clean sheets, goals & assists and bonus points. We’ve bolded the top 5 for each category.
Did you read all the way to the bottom? Here’s a reward! Check out our list of FREE entry FPL leagues with cash prizes!