Next up in our exclusive from the Fantasy Premier League, The Scout brings you the low-down on the "clean sheet kings", Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins, following last week's focus on goal machine Patrick van Aanholt.
In 13 games together since January 2017, Sakho and Tomkins have played in 13 games together at centre-back, winning 10, drawing three and losing no games!
The Palace backline was revived following Roy Hodgson’s appointment in Gameweek 5, producing nine clean sheets until the end of the season - bettered only by teams finishing in the top seven places.
A run of early opponents with low ‘FPL Fixture Difficulty Rankings’ (FDR) boosts the appeal of Palace players at the start of the season – with just one of their opening nine matches scoring more than three in the FDR.
This suggests that investment in their players can pay off from the start of 2018/19, and defenders are at the head of the queue - and for managers on a budget, both Sakho (£5.0m) and Tomkins (£4.5m) offer a cut-price alternative.
The Frenchman’s ability to claim bonus points in FPL is significant. Despite being restricted to 18 starts due to injury last term, Sakho ranked fourth overall for bonus points among defenders with a total of 18.
His distribution is a key factor in the Bonus Points System (BPS) – Sakho averaged 38.9 passes per match last season, completing 85.4% meaning whenever Palace record a clean sheet, his chances of earning additional points improve.
Those stats helped Sakho to an average of 4.3 points per match (ppm), which was second only to Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m and 4.7ppm) for the Eagles last year.
But it’s Tomkins who has emerged as their most popular defender in FPL, owned by 11.7% of managers.
The centre-half finished last season in excellent form, supplying two goals and four clean sheets in the final eight Gameweeks, and no FPL defender bettered his nine shots inside the box and four big chances during that run.
That goal threat, combined with his low cost, offers another strong alternative to Van Aanholt for Palace’s opening fixtures.