Why fullbacks are the best picks at defender in fantasy soccer

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Let’s start with a few words of explanation, for the casual soccer fan, about the two different types of defenders. There are center backs, who play in the middle of the field and are primarily concerned with preventing goals. And then there are fullbacks, who play out wide and still have some defensive responsibilities, but also frequently move higher up the field and participate in attacks.

Fullbacks are much more likely to pick up assists and chances created, potentially leading to huge fantasy performances. Center backs typically collect their points via some of the less lucrative fantasy categories, such as clearances, blocks and passes completed — generally more consistent performers, but far less likely to hit a fantasy “home run.”7

Through the first four weeks of the Premier League season, two fullbacks have put on an incredible show. Marcos Alonso of Chelsea (68.4 points) and Benjamin Mendy of Manchester City (66.1) are currently ranked seventh and eighth among all outfield players in the league in fantasy points — very close behind offensive superstars like Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah.

Alonso has a goal and two assists in Chelsea’s first four games (all victories). Mendy hasn’t scored a goal yet but is tied for the league lead with four assists in four games (three wins, one draw).

This isn’t a fluke. Alonso, playing as more of a midfielder last season under previous manager Antonio Conte, scored seven goals and would have finished 30th among outfield players in fantasy points.

Moving to fullback under new manager Maurizio Sarri certainly hasn’t blunted Alonso offensively. He’s scored only one goal, but has already hit the woodwork twice and taken 12 shots in four games. Only 10 players in the entire league have taken more shots, and no other defender has taken more than eight.

Mendy missed most of last season due to a knee injury. But this is a very highly rated 24-year-old whom Man City paid big money to acquire from Monaco last summer. Mendy’s taken only six shots, but he has seven chances created — three more than Alonso — and is playing on a team that scored a record 106 goals last season. That should help him rack up plenty more assists.