The fixture list says ‘Saturday 13 August’ but, for Fantasy Premier League managers, the season starts here.
With registration now open and the player list published, we can look to exploit the remainder of the summer as we seek to compile the optimum 15-man squad ahead of next month’s kick-off.
Big challenges and exciting opportunities lie ahead.
While the game rules have remained untouched, with the Chips retained, FPL managers still have many new variables to consider.
The summer’s early transfer activity has already witnessed the arrival of key new targets – most notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£11.5m).
After scoring 113 goals in 122 appearances over his last four seasons for Paris Saint Germain, the new Manchester United signing will be a hugely popular candidate for our three-man forward lines.
Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£9.5m) has joined the talismanic Swede at Old Trafford; the highly regarded schemer boasts an enviable record in the Bundesliga and threatens to shake up our thinking in midfield.
Elsewhere, Manchester City have landed the goal scoring talents of Nolito (£9.0m) on the flank, while Chelsea have already bolstered their attack with the pace and power of Michy Batshuayi (£9.0m).
A follow up article later this week will assess the impact of these signings in more detail.
FPL managers should also consider how recent managerial appointments have shifted the Premier League landscape.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford, coupled with those impressive additions to the squad, will surely alter our approach to Manchester United’s assets.
Antonio Conte is also expected to transform Chelsea’s fortunes having seized the reigns at Stamford Bridge, while it is anticipated that Pep Guardiola will reinvigorate Manchester City as a title-challenging force.
These changes bring renewed optimism, plus fresh approaches and tactics that have the potential to revive FPL assets who were somewhat overlooked for much of last season.
The same familiar names can be found on the player list, but many of those who served us so well in 2015/16 have now increased in price, forcing us to re-assess our options.
The prolific FPL form of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez has inflated their valuations to £10.0m and £9.5m respectively.
Similarly, the mercurial Dimitri Payet of West Ham United now demands a price tag of £9.5m, while Dele Alli’s 10 goals and 12 assists from the Tottenham Hotspur midfield have earned him an increase from £5.0m to £8.5m this time around.
There will doubtless be new emerging talent waiting to fill the void.
The promoted clubs – Burnley, Hull City and Middlesbrough – make returns to the top flight and introduce a cast of potential targets.
Burnley’s Andre Gray (£6.5m), last season’s top scorer in the Championship with 23 goals, will look to maintain his rise to prominence and should attract interest.
Middlesbrough’s defence – so resilient throughout their promotion campaign with 22 clean sheets - could also win early suitors, particularly with the opening schedule appearing to fall kindly for Aitor Karanka’s men.
Indeed, FPL managers should waste no time in assessing the fixture list and the opening Gameweeks. While it is tempting to plan a squad for the long haul, building one capable of strong returns over the first month is often the wisest tactic.
That is just one initial pitfall to consider. Over reliance on unproven newcomers to the Premier League, at the cost of established FPL talent is another common temptation to be avoided.
Pre-season form and fitness should also be monitored. Awareness of those clubs prepared to rest star players, fatigued by a summer of international exertions, is key over the early Gameweeks.
The likes of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and the aforementioned Payet have already played a batch of competitive matches; they may just be granted extended leave that will see them miss their opening Premier League fixtures.
The first whistle is still weeks away and yet there are all these factors in play when considering our initial squad selection.
We will be on hand over the next month with further articles analysing the options and strategies available.
You can also look forward to a growing selection of new articles and social media content during the season, arming you with plenty of information and insight to help make this an FPL campaign to remember.