This article is part of our FPL Bargain Bin series.
We are within days of kickoff for the 2017/18 Premier League season and with it comes plenty of freshness. A lot of that comes in the sense of optimism. Just two short seasons ago, Leicester City proved that any fanbase should believe this is the year their team brings home the title. Much of that is the same for FPL. Whether you are playing traditional or draft format, there is a new brick of clay with which to mold your team. Even if you are in some of the newer-style keeper leagues, there is plenty of "new clay" to mold.
That new comes in many forms. Most notably, signings from other international leagues make the biggest splash. There has been plenty made of and discussed regarding signings like Alvaro Morata (Chelsea). Certainly, these players can play big roles in fantasy lineups this season. However, they are going to come with a significant cost. In order to build a successful team, a perfect spending balance also requires finding players who can be had for cheap.
For good bargains, there is no better place to look than players who spent last season in the Championship. These new players can provide a significant impact on fantasy teams at a much-reduced price compared to the new summer signings. The 2014/15 season saw a newly promoted Charlie Austin score 18 goals for Queens Park Rangers, and the next season Troy Deeney scored 15 goals and Odion Ighalo contributed seven assists for Watford.
The signs were there for good seasons from these players as they were regular contributors during their promotion years in the Championship.
With this in mind, which players should be targeted at the start of the season to return the most value on investment?
Gayle's name likely sounds familiar. In fact, familiar names will be a recurring theme here. Gayle's 23 goals last season tied him for the second most in the Championship. What he did last season was nothing short of impressive. He scored at a rate of one goal every 93 minutes, essentially a goal per game. To compare, Austin scored on average every 147 minutes in the season before promotion. It is difficult to expect Gayle to score at such a pace now in the Premier League, but if he falls somewhere between the 93 minutes per goal and his average of 182 minutes per goal in previous Premier League seasons, 15 goals is a distinct possibility for the Newcastle striker.
Murray is another name that sounds familiar because he's had runs in the Premier League with both Crystal Palace and Bournemouth with some success. Most recently, Murray tied Gayle last season with 23 goals and was a key contributor for Brighton. With no major additions to the Albion attack, Murray is in line to see the most Premier League minutes of his career. However, he ranks behind Gayle for a few reasons. First, Gayle is a better finisher and scores at a faster rate. Second, the support system Gayle has at Newcastle is better with more proven playmakers and chance creators. Murray still has a great chance to contribute, but Gayle should be targeted first.
Huddersfield brought Ince in to improve a squad that earned promotion despite having a negative goal differential. He is another player who comes with some previous Premier League pedigree, though very little. Having spent time with both Crystal Palace and Hull City for Premier League seasons, Ince has one goal and one assist in limited minutes. However, his play in the Championship has shown flashes of production during the past three seasons with Derby County. There are times when Ince can be a black hole with the ball; however, this lends itself to good peripheral stats for those in leagues that count shots. On a Huddersfield squad starved for attacking prowess, the large number of opportunities Ince is expected to see should translate to a good number of goals and assists for the midfielder. It wouldn't be a big surprise to see Ince with 15 combined goals and assists come season's end.
Knockaert put up very nice numbers for Brighton last season, finishing with a solid 15 goals and eight assists. However, his Premier League exposure is less than Ince's and he has less of a proven record of accomplishment. There could be some growing pains with Knockaert, so don't be surprised by weeks of production but swings in consistency.
Ritchie has put up good numbers in the Championship (double-digit goals his last two seasons there), but he has yet to see it fully translate to substantial numbers in the top flight. He's a better fantasy option than Jonjo Shelvey, but there could be some cannibalization of production between the two that lowers the ceiling for both players.
Yedlin has been surrounded by hype since the 2014 World Cup. He displayed flashes of speed and brilliance but has yet to see that translate at the English club level. After being eased into play in the Championship last season with Newcastle, this year could be when he begins to fulfill some of that potential. He was fourth on the team and first among Newcastle defenders with 1.2 assisted shots per game during spot action, and a more expanded role could lead to a higher number of assists.
With not a lot of clean sheets expected from the promoted teams, looking for the peripheral stats for potential scoring becomes key. Huddersfield's Tommy Smith gets involved in the attack, as displayed by his four goals and 10 assists last season. He may be difficult to play on a weekly basis, but his value could go up as the season progresses, which would allow for a larger bankroll.