In case the post-World Cup malaise had you down, we have gallantly returned to welcome y’all back to a fresh, new and exciting season of Razzball soccer. Like any other year, the EPL season will welcome three new teams to the ranks of the prem after saying adios to three definitive losers: Wolverhampton Wanderes, Cardiff City and Fulham have climbed the ranks of the EFL Championship to join the big boys at the top of the English footballing pyramid. Below are some quick numbers to give you a quick look of how each team did in the EFL last year:

EFL Championship (17-18):

Team Win % (Home) Win % (Away) Clean Sheets CS (Home) CS (Away) Goals Scored (Total/H/A) Goals Conceded (Total/H/A)
Wolves 70% 61% 24 12 12 82/47/35 39/18/21
Cardiff 70% 59% 19 11 8 69/40/29 39/16/23
Fulham 56.5% 52% 15 9 6 79/40/39 46/17/28

Wolverhampton Wanderers: first 3 fixtures – Everton (H), Leicester (A), Man City (H)

If you were to target one promoted squad, last year’s runaway Championship winners are the best bet. Through the first ten gameweeks, they only face two of the top 6 sides from last year’s prem standings: Man City GW 3 and ManU GW 6. Their initial run of fixtures features home matches against Everton, Burnley, Southampton and Watford. While most Championship season winners always have an aura of invulnerabilty about them, this Wolves’ squad has truly worked to become a well-oiled machine, and should definitely be able to compete throughout the season. Below are some players of interest for managers looking to fill their initial squads with a few punts:

  • Jota, Wolves, MF, £6.5m: 17 goals, 5 assists, 51 shots on target, 69 shots inside box, 120 total shots.  As far as promoted players go, Jota has both the volume and finishing numbers that any FPL nerd should drool over when making a statistically driven decision on bringing in a player. That being said, stat burners from the championship hardly ever are capable of producing at the same rate, as the sheer level of competition in the Premier league is inifitely higher than that of it’s baby brother division. I like Jota as a 4th MF in a forward heavy team, or a 5th MF if you already have 4 strong MF choices in your squad. Already owned by 6.9% of managers, it’s hard to deny that he is the featured goal-scorer for Wolves.
  • Neves, Wolves, MF, £5.0m: 6 goals, 1 assist; Neves was signed for £15.8m before the start of the 2017-18 season, both a club and league (Championship) record. Of his 6 league goals last season, 5 were from outside of the penalty box. Currently owned by 15.0% of managers, his inclusison in so many pre-season squads might be more based on his price-point than anything else. As a defensive midfielder, he has the makeup of a sensational real life player that could be good for a very long time in top flight football while never quite giving you a ton of returns in fantasy. That being said, at £5.0m, he is certainly a great punt that can round out any manager’s 5th MF selection.
  • Wolves’ Defense: After Douglas got signed by Leeds United this past weekend, it’s clear we don’t know who will be the “star” defender to add out of their defense. If I had to pick anyone, I’d go with £4.5m French defender Willy Boly because he comes from the land of the World Cup champs, is 6’5″ and has all of the sexy name pedigree we look to fill out any roster with. No idea as of today, but it would seem he is a logical choice to compete as one of Wolves’ starting CB.

Cardiff City: first 3 fixtures – Bournemouth (A), Newcastle (H), Huddersfield (A)

  • Morrison, Cardiff, DEF, £5.0m: 7 goals, 1 assist, 24 shots on target, 50 total shots, 23 chances created. The Cardiff City captain should be a fixture of their defense, and the only likely candidate to have regular playing time secured out of the newly promoted Welsh side defense.
  • Hoilett, Cardiff, MF, £5.5m: 9 goals, 11 assists, 32 shots on target, 92 total shots, 85 chances created. Junior Hoilett is a Canadian international that heavily contributed to the Bluebirds’ promotion last season. Scoring 9 goals and chipping in 11 assists, he was often involved on offense and could definitely continue to be a focal part of their offense in the new campaign.
  • Murphy, Cardiff, MF, £5.0m: Scoring 7 goals last season  in the Championship for Norwich, the 23 year-old Josh Murphy was brought in as their first Premier league signing and should eventually find his way into a formative attacking role. He might not start the season in the starting XI, but keep him on your radar as the season develops.
  • Zohore, Cardiff, FWD, £5.0m: 9 goals, 5 assists, 35 shots on target, 92 total shots, 31 chances created. He has all of the markings of classic FPL third Forward: cost nothing, get starter’s minutes and occupy a roster spot. I don’t have high hopes for Zohore making his mark, but he currently looks like he’ll be operating as their lone striker on the top of the pitch. If he touches the ball in the box at a high rate, he should be able to find the net every now and then.

Fulham: first 3 fixtures – Crystal Palace (H), Spurs (A), Burnley (H)

  • Sessegnon, Fulham, MF, £6.5m: 15 goals 6 assists, 24 shots on target, 45 shots inside box, 56 total shots. Ryan Sessegnon won the Championship’s Player of the Year award last year and produced countless numbers of stats to back up his trophy haul. Currently included by 12.1% of FPL managers, Ryan Sessegnon’s potential as an 18 year-old wonderplayer has kept him firmly on Spurs’ transfer radar all summer. That being said, he is set to begin the season as Fulham’s most important creative force, and should be heavily involved in all of their scoring. Fulham’s fixture week 2 away to Spurs should be a great match for him to show his potential suitors what they could have if they up their price come winter or next summer. Consider me intrigured, although not to the degree of having him in over 12% of sides.
  • Cairney, Fulham, MF, £5.0m: 5 goals, 5 assists; Tom Cairney is Fulham’s captain and should feature in nearly every match for the Cottagers. While he may not fill up the stat sheet, for £5.0m you are really just paying for him to provide bench depth and fill in for a solid 2 point outing when one of your stud MFs is inevitably rotated by Pep.
  • Bettinelli, Fulham, GK, £4.5m: 60 saves, 12 clean sheets; for the price, you can’t expect much. However, promoted sides with abysmal defense are often full of tons of save opportunities. Don’t hope for much in the way of clean sheets, but volume save opportunities do lead to decent point hauls from a backup GK.