Leighton Baines secured 25 more points than any other defender in the Premier League fantasy football game last season and this is the obvious reason as to why he is the 11/5 favourite to repeat the feat in the forthcoming campaign.
Roberto Martinez’ keenness to play 3-4-3 is a further boost to Baines’ point-scoring potential as he will effectively be playing as a left midfielder, enhancing his prospects of getting assists.
The fact he remains on set-piece duties and Everton’s penalty taker gives him an additional edge over many other defenders in the fantasy football game.
However, the one concern over backing Baines is that Everton are almost certain to concede more goals under Martinez than David Moyes last season, where the club enjoyed the fourth best defensive record in the top flight.
The obvious problem in attempting to oppose Baines in this market is whether the other likely defenders are assured of starts.
Chelsea pair Branislav Ivanovic (5/1) and David Luiz (20/1) both possess the ability to score goals, but rotation is likely with Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry and Gary Cahill, with this quintet battling for three starting spots.
Manchester City kept the most Premier League clean sheets last season, but Manuel Pellegrini is expected to play adopt a more expansive strategy, which may count against Pablo Zabaleta (22/1) and Vincent Kompany (50/1).
Meanwhile, Jan Vertonghen (7/1) started a number of games at left-back for Spurs last season and the fact he will move inside to centre-back must limit his point-scoring potential slightly.
Picking a Manchester United defender in opposition to Baines may prove the most successful strategy and Patrice Evra seems the most guaranteed starter. Evra is 11/5 to score the most points of all of the defenders.
Evra chased home Baines in last season’s game and given that Moyes likes his full-backs to get forward, the Frenchman should have plenty of opportunity to provide assists and pop up in goalscoring positions.
At longer prices, Seamus Coleman will play the same role as Baines but on the opposition flank for Everton and even though he doesn’t offer the same set piece-scoring potential, he is worth a second look at 150/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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