Jul 14, 2017
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Why defensive midfielders could be a differential in Draft Fantasy this year

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Draft Fantasy are introducing a new optional setting for their game this season and if your league chooses to make it active, defensive midfielders could prove to be a differential in the game this season.

The TIR (tackles, interceptions and recoveries) rule, otherwise known as the Kante Rule, means that a player will receive one bonus point for every combination of four tackles and/or interceptions.

Furthermore, they receive one bonus point for every four recoveries that they complete. For example, if Victor Wanyama made two tackles, two interceptions and four recoveries, he would receive two TIR bonus points.

In previous years, the focus has been on attack-minded midfielders that will contribute goals and assists, but the addition of this rule will add draft value to the top defensive midfielders.

These five could be worth considering when it comes to your draft…

Oriol Romeu – Southampton

The Southampton midfielder stepped up into the Victor Wanyama shaped hole in the centre of the park last season and ended the season as one of the best defensive midfielders in the league. Saints were a better team with him on the pitch and he performed at a consistent level.

When it comes to the TIR rule, if you opt for a defensive midfielder, it is important to select one that will always play and consistently win the ball back for his side. Romeu fits that description, as highlighted by his average of 3.3 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game.

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He would have recorded an additional 96 points last season if the rule had been active. One issue is his lack of discipline, as he did pick up 11 yellow cards, which led to him missing three matches.

Victor Wanyama – Tottenham Hotspur

After leaving Southampton to join Tottenham, Wanyama took his game onto the next level and established himself as a key player at White Hart Lane. He missed only two Premier League matches and that underlines his importance to Mauricio Pochettino’s side. It will be worth keeping an eye on Eric Dier’s future, as Wanyama’s value will rise even more if the England international moves to Manchester United.

Last season, he averaged 2.5 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game. It is expected that Wanyama would complete fewer than Romeu as he is playing in a team that is more likely to dominate possession. That said, the Kenyan international found a knack of scoring crucial goals last season, ending the campaign with four in the league. He could be a gamble worth taking in your draft.

Ander Herrera – Manchester United

The Spaniard has been appointed the vice-captain of the club this summer and he will continue to be one of the regulars in the starting eleven. Jose Mourinho rates him highly and his creativity means that he is already a good fantasy option, as a fourth or fifth draft pick. Last season, he contributed one goal and six assists, but it is his tenacity that impressed Mourinho most and the TIR rule will significantly add to his value.

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Like Romeu, he was consistent in his numbers, as he averaged 2.7 tackles and 2.6 interceptions per match. Last season, he would have recorded an extra 60 points under the TIR rule. He was expected to cover a lot of ground in the midfield area to provide Paul Pogba with the license to roam, and he carried out his tack impressively on a weekly basis.

United’s search for a holding midfielder is worth keeping an eye on as this may reduce the defensive responsibility for Herrera. If that is the case, it could increase his attacking value. As one of the few all-rounders in midfield, the Spaniard could be a great late pick.

Idrissa Gueye – Everton

The Everton midfielder was one of the signings of the summer last year as he added much-needed work rate and tenacity to the Toffees’ midfield. They have undergone a revolution this summer, but the Senegalese international will continue to be a regular in the first team and his partnership with Morgan Schneiderlin could emerge as one of the best in the league.

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He featured in 33 Premier League matches, averaging 4.1 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game. These are Kante-like figures and it isn’t a surprise given that many thought at the time that he should have been targeted by Leicester City to replace the Frenchman. If the rule had been included in Draft Fantasy last year, he would have been one of the main beneficiaries with an extra 87 points.

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

Finally, N’Golo Kante will become a good fantasy option. In previous years, he hasn’t held much value as the best part of his game didn’t receive points, but the TIR rule changes that. Considering that the new rule has been named after him, he has now emerged as an option for players in Draft Fantasy. His limited attacking contribution means that he won’t be one of your first picks, but he should be considered late in the draft.

After moving to Chelsea, his tackles and interceptions dropped due to him playing in a team that were more dominant, but he remained one of the best in the league at retrieving the ball. He averaged 3.6 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game. His contributions would have earned him 87 points under the TIR rule, which was second only to Romeu.

Jake Jackman

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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