We're less than three weeks away from the start of another possibly enthralling season of the Premier League. Along with it, Fantasy Premier League (FPL) makes its return after close to two and a half months, with Gameweek 1 of the new season set to begin on Friday, August 13.
As is the norm, the transfer window has introduced plenty of new variables that should give FPL managers a lot to think about. The three promoted teams this season - Norwich City, Watford and Brentford - all seem to be competitive sides, and FPL managers will be scouting FPL assets from their ranks.
There has been a lot of hype over the best Gameweek 1 teams, with the expensive pricing of star FPL assets making it tricky to build a powerful opening team. The plethora of similarly priced FPL options, especially in the £6.0-£7.5 m category among forwards and midfielders, hasn't made things any easier.
Amidst all this, the opening fixtures have proved to be a decent filter for the exciting array of FPL talent on offer. However, there are plenty of teams with good opening fixtures, and selecting the right sides to back early on could go a long way in having a successful FPL campaign.
FPL managers can use the Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDR) to get an idea of the opening fixtures of the teams.
On that note, let's now take a look at the five teams with the best opening fixtures.
Note: Here, we're only considering teams other than the 'Big Six' and Leicester City.
Aston Villa: FPL managers have already flocked to new signing Emiliano Buendia (AVL) (MID) (£6.5 m) and striker Ollie Watkins (AVL) (FWD) (£7.5 m). Aston Villa have three promising opening fixtures where they face two out of the three promoted teams.
However, they face Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in their next four games. And that lack of long-term appeal is why they haven't made it to the top five.
Wolves: Bruno Lage's Wolves team have a challenging first three games, post which the fixtures begin to turn for them. From Gameweek 4 to Gameweek 14, Wolves face none of last season's top eight teams, suggesting that they could be FPL managers' primary targets on their first Wildcards.
However, with three tough fixtures off the bat and a new manager at the helm, it might be wise to invest in Wolves after a few Gameweeks, which is why they haven't made it to the top five despite their brilliant fixtures.
Watford have the best-looking fixtures of the three promoted teams, and their solid defense could offer FPL managers some handy budget FPL picks in building their GW 1 teams. Watford kick off their season with a home game against Aston Villa on 14th August.
Their good run of fixtures extends until Gameweek 10, during which they face only two of last season's top-eight sides.
Xisco Munoz's arrival transformed Watford's fortunes as the Hornets finished second in the Championship, finishing six points short of champions Norwich City.
The team thrived defensively, keeping 23 clean sheets in the Championship last season. Since Munoz's appointment, the side have conceded just 15 goals in 26 games. They were very reliable at home, keeping clean sheets in 11 out of 13 home games under the manager.
While it'll be interesting to see how they fare in the Premier League, they look pretty solid for a newly promoted team. With plenty of budget-friendly picks in defense, such as Francisco Sierralta (WAT) (DEF) (£4.5 m) and goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann (WAT) (GK) (£4.5 m), and the exciting Ismaila Sarr (WAT) (MID) (£6.0 m), FPL managers should consider Watford as a part of their GW 1 FPL plans.
The Magpies have a great run of fixtures at the start of the season, and FPL managers will hope that the likes of Callum Wilson (NEW) (FWD) (£7.5 m) and Allan Saint-Maximin (NEW) (FWD) (£6.5 m) can capitalize on it. Newcastle face just two of last season's top eight in the first nine games of their season.
Joe Willock (ARS) (MID) (£6.0 m) inspired a late surge that led Steve Bruce's side to a 12th-placed finish last season. While he's unlikely to return to Newcastle, they'll look to use that momentum to start strong this season.
Callum Wilson made a huge impact whenever he was on the field, and if he manages to stay fit throughout the season, Newcastle could have a successful campaign. All their defenders, apart from Matt Ritchie (NEW) (DEF) (£5.0 m), cost £4.5 m or less and could prove to be good budget FPL options if they do well.
Newcastle are still an unproven side in the FPL, but their good run of opening fixtures warrants some interest from FPL managers, especially in some of their attacking assets.