FPL managers don't have long to go before the start of another FPL campaign. With less than two weeks to go, FPL managers must have one eye on the fixtures and another on the pre-season action as they scout various teams and FPL assets on offer.
The expensive prices of last season's top FPL assets have made it difficult for FPL managers to include more than three premium assets. In such situations, budget FPL options are worth their weight in gold, and all the top managers will be scouting the best of those options ahead of the new season.
Budget defenders are the most popular players in the FPL, with John Lundstram and Stuart Dallas some of the most popular such names in the last few seasons. They offer a high ceiling of points for prices as low as £4 million and £4.5 million, which frees up funds for FPL managers to use elsewhere.
However, the expensive prices of FPL assets have extended to the budget defenders category, with no viable starters priced at £4 million. Nevertheless, let's take a look at the top five budget FPL defenders this season.
Note: Only defenders priced £4.5 million or lesser have been considered as budget defenders.
Matthew Lowton (BUR) (DEF) (£4.5 million)- There's not much to separate Lowton from Charlie Taylor at left-back, though the presence of Erik Pieters as competition makes Lowton a better option.
Burnley weren't up to their usually solid defensive standards last season, and it remains to be seen if Sean Dyche can restore them to that level. Their moderate run of opening fixtures should tell us how good they are/ If they're back to their defensive best, Lowton is a handy budget FPL option who can chip in with clean sheets and the odd attacking return.
Calum Chambers (ARS) (DEF) (£4.5 million)- Calum Chambers has, against all odds, become somewhat of a first-choice right-back at Arsenal. He started games regularly towards the end of last season, and impressed with his attacking output.
He has been in good form in pre-season, and Arteta seems to trust him more than Hector Bellerin. While he doesn't have the security of starts yet, he's one to keep an eye on, as he could offer lots of FPL value at that price if he plays regularly.
Conor Coady (WOL) (DEF) (£4.5 million)- Conor Coady should be a constant at the heart of the Wolves' defence. Bruno Lage's attack-minded gameplay means Wolves' clean sheet prospects aren't too high. Coady's performance in 2020-21 was a rare positive in a largely disappointing season for Wolves.
They have a few tricky opening fixtures before their schedule eases out. While we'll have to wait and see how they fare defensively, Coady could be a great budget FPL pick if they keep clean sheets regularly.
#5 Kiko Femenia (WAT) (DEF) (£4.5 million)
Watford are easily the best defensive team among the promoted teams, and something about them suggests they could carry their stellar defensive record into the Premier League. Their home record is superb, and they have an opportunity to open their campaign with a clean sheet at home, though it won't come easy against a strong Aston Villa side.
Kiko Femenia is nailed-on at right-back for the Hornets, and he offers decent potential for attacking returns. While goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann is the better value pick, Femenia is arguably the best defensive option in the team.
While there are plenty of defenders at £4.5 million, many belong to defensively unconvincing sides like Newcastle, Southampton and Wolves.
Watford's return to the Premier League should arguably be better than they fared in 2019-20, especially with their better defensive shape this time. Even if it doesn't turn out that way, their good run of opening fixtures means it's worth taking a punt on their FPL assets, especially Kiko Femenia.
#4 Wesley Fofana (LEI) (DEF) (£4.5 million)
My #4 ranking for Fofana could come as a surprise, given his high FPL ownership. As of now, he's a nailed-on starter, with Jonny Evans not yet fully recovered from a foot injury. However, in the long term, it remains to be seen if Brendan Rodgers uses a back four or a back five because Fofana could be rotated if he chooses the former.
Leicester are pretty solid defensively, especially if Wilfred Ndidi stays fit, but Fofana doesn't offer too much apart from clean sheets and the occasional bonus point. While that may be enough for FPL managers looking for a £4.5 million filler, other options could offer a better points potential.
Overall, a player of Fofana's talent priced at £4.5 million is pretty good for FPL managers. But for those willing to roll the dice for a more explosive and risky pick, he might not be the best choice.
#3 Joel Veltman (BHA) (DEF) (£4.5 million)
Brighton's Joel Veltman caught the eye of many with his solid performances for Brighton last season. The Dutchman showed his versatility, taking up a variety of positions in the backline and in midfield at times.
Brighton's stellar defensive stats placed them third in the xGA (expected goals against) stat. While Ben White's departure could weaken their defence, they're still arguably among the top ten defences in the league. While Tariq Lamptey (BHA) (DEF) (£4.5 million) could compete with him at right-back once he's fit, Veltman is currently nailed-on to start for the Seagulls.
There are lots of expectations from Graham Potter's side to deliver on their underlying stats this season. If that happens, Veltman could end with a sizeable FPL haul at the end of the season. Considering that he offers good defensive and attacking potential, he should be on the list of the best FPL budget defenders this season.
#2 Ben White (ARS) (DEF) (£4.5 million)
While Ben White's transfer reduces Brighton's clean sheet potential, it should make him and his Arsenal colleagues much better FPL options. Despite the criticism they coped up, Arsenal ended last season as the third-best defensive side, only behind Manchester City and Chelsea.
White's addition could only strengthen them, and at just £4.5 million, he could offer lots of value playing for a defensively solid team. While he doesn't offer much goal threat, he has a decent chance of getting bonus points whenever the team keeps a clean sheet. He ranks fourth for BPS among £4.5 million defenders, and those numbers could only improve this season.
While Arsenal's prospects from an FPL perspective have diminished over the last few seasons, ignore Ben White at your own peril. He has the potential to be the best budget FPL defender this season.
#1 Luke Ayling (LEE) (DEF) (£4.5 million)
Luke Ayling was one of the most unlucky FPL defenders last season. The Leeds United full-back had brilliant underlying numbers in attack, but ended the season without an attacking return. He could deliver on those underlying stats in his second stint in the Premier League.
Leeds don't have a good set of opening fixtures, but from Gameweek 5 onwards, they have a lot of winnable matches. For the majority of last season, Leeds didn't have a reliable defence, conceding plenty of goals. However, they shored up tremendously towards the end of the season, and were among the top three defences in the last nine Gameweeks of the Premier League season.
If they can maintain their defensive stability this season, Ayling could offer lots of potential both in defence and attack. While Junior Firpo is a better option at £0.5 more than him, Luke Ayling is the best FPL budget defender ahead of the start of the season.