When the Premier League season kicks off next Saturday, three new clubs will be taking the pitch hoping to maintain a spot in Englandís top flight. Two of the clubs are returning after making brief trips up in years past: Crystal Palace and Hull City. The other, Cardiff City, will be making their first appearance since the creation of the Premier League in 1992.
What does this all mean for the upcoming fantasy season? Letís take a look at each team and the impact some of their players will have for your fantasy team.
Letís start with the 2012-13 Football League Championship champions, Cardiff City. The Bluebirds were well rounded last season, finishing in the top-three in both goals scored and allowed. Amazingly, for a team that finished third overall for goals scored, no single player managed to net more than eight goals last season. While this balance helped them gain promotion to the Premier League, it doesnít bode well for fantasy statistics. However, some of the additions to Cardiff may make for interesting plays this year.
Steven Caulker comes over on transfer from Tottenham, and he could not have found a better place to play. While the well-rounded scoring may dampen goals at the forward and midfield positions, it makes for interesting options at defender. Cardiff defenders accounted for 15 percent of the teamís shots last season, a number that fell above average for the position. Caulker has shown some ability to find the back of the net, scoring twice last season for Tottenham in limited action. An increase in opportunities could mean Cardiffís prized summer transfer could put up good numbers from the defender position.
David Marshall has been a constant for Cardiff, starting 91 out of 92 Championship matches over the past two seasons. The Scottish national has been making saves for years now. He has five years of steady experience in net and the addition of Caulker should help Marshall transition to Premier League shots. I wouldnít expect him to save 80 percent of shots like last season, but the drop off shouldnít take him below 70 percent, which would make for a respectable season in net.
Andreas Cornelius comes to Cardiff from FC Copenhagen of the Danish Superliga. Just like Caulker, he could not have joined a better situation. No one coming back from last seasonís roster took more than 61 shots all year. This is a team in desperate need of a primary scoring threat, and Cornelius should insert himself into that role. Cornelius led the Superliga with 18 goals last season and should be the focal point of the Cardiff attack this upcoming season.
Keep an eye on: Kim Bo-Kyung, who leads the team with three goals this preseason.
Crystal Palace finished fifth overall in the Championship during the regular season before going on to win the playoff and earn a spot in the Premier League. Despite the somewhat lower finish, Palace finished second in goals scored. Although the teamís leading scorer, Glenn Murray, is still in a Palace kit, the return of Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United creates a large hole. Zaha was primed for a breakout season after finishing second in goals and third in shots for Palace last year. As a result, the club went out and signed some players they hope will help to fill the void left by Zaha.
Palace broke the bank to get Dwight Gayle this summer, paying Peterborough a club record £8.5 million. You typically donít spend money like that for a player you plan to keep on the bench. Gayle scored 13 goals for Peterborough in half a season after being loaned from League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge last year. Crystal Palace are hoping he can provide some offense alongside Murray this season.
Jerome Thomas signed after being released by West Brom this summer. Someone is going to need to replace the shots taken by Zaha and it will come down to Thomas and fellow signee Josť CampaŮa. Thomas should be the guy, as he has the experience that CampaŮa just does not have yet. Heís certainly shown during the preseason that heís ready to be the guy.
As discussed previously, Glenn Murray led the team in goals last season. In fact, his 30 goals paced all of the Championship in 2012-13. You canít expect the numbers to be as high this year. Between the addition of Gayle and moving to the Premier League, a dip in production should surely be expected. However, he is the focal point of the Crystal Palace attack, and those are the guys you want for your fantasy team.
Keep an eye on: Besides the previously discussed Josť CampaŮa, keep an eye on Yannick Bolasie. Bolasie was second on the team in shots last season. However, his lack of production since moving from League One is concerning and certainly a reason why Crystal Palace went out and signed two impact midfielders. That being said, Bolasie has the most experience out of the group of midfielders and may get looks early. If he can find his scoring ways, he could be a good play.
Hull City are the antithesis of both Crystal Palace and Cardiff City. They managed just 61 goals as a team last season, which averages to about 1.3 per game. Oddly, they managed to take the most shots out of all three of the promoted clubs. As a team, they were just insufficient in their chances compared to their promoted brethren. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that midfielders accounted for over 50 percent of the teamís shots last year. The lack of a true goal-scorer did not hurt their chances of promotion to the Premier League, but it may hurt their chances of staying. To combat the issue, Hull went out and signed some talent with top flight experience with the hopes of producing more goals.
The shot discrepancy affected the entire team, including the production from the back line. Defenders accounted for just 10 percent of the total shots last season. On a team that will be looking for scoring any way they can get it, players that can score from anywhere are good bets to get chances. Maynor Figueroa proved that by scoring during one of Hull Cityís tune ups this preseason. And at a position that doesnít do a lot of scoring, he may provide some offense you donít normally see from the position.
Yannick Sagbo comes over from Ligue 1 having led Evian in scoring just two short years ago. Seeing some of his minutes disappear cut into his production last season, but he should not have that problem on this scoring-challenged squad. Sagbo was brought in to provide offense to a team that was lacking it and you can expect him to be near the top of the team in goals scored this season.
Danny Graham comes over on loan from Sunderland for the season. Just like Figueroa and Sagbo, Graham brings with him valuable top flight experience. And just like Sagbo, a drop in playing time can be linked to a drop in production last season. Graham managed just three goals last year while splitting time between Swansea City and Sunderland. Between the two, he managed just 22 starts. Previous seasons have seen Graham start at least 30 games and score double-digit goals, whether it was with Watford in the Championship or Swansea City in the Premier League two seasons ago. On this squad, expect Graham to get the minutes and opportunities to be a double-digit goal scorer yet again.
Keep an eye on: The goalkeeper situation. With primary goalkeeper David Stockdaleís loan with Hull ending, the Tigers went out and signed a pair of keepers to fill the void. Both Allan McGregor and Stephen Harper were brought in to protect the goal. Harper has some Premier League experience playing with Newcastle United, while McGregor spent time last year in the Turkish Super Lig preceded by a few seasons with Rangers of the Scottish Premier League. Expect Harper to be the guy, but both players have seen time this preseason.