The middle tier of the Football League has been one of the most interesting in recent years. The division is a strange mix of former giants like Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County, middle-of-the-road teams who could go up or down, and overachieving sides like Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood Town. Predicting the outcome of the league then, in theory, should be easy - you’d think that a team that has won the FA Cup, competed in the Premier League, and brings in over 20,000 each week should be able to beat a team that scrapes around 5,000 each week. Anyone who has followed Wycombe’s success over the last few years will tell you that’s far from the case though. The league is very unpredictable and it’s time for us to stick our neck on the line and provide you with our betting insights in this EFL League One betting guide.
After a good, but ultimately disappointing campaign last year, Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to dominate League One this coming campaign. The Owls have wasted no time in getting in top players throughout the transfer window, with the signings of Michael Smith and Michael Ihiekwe from Rotherham both grabbing headlines. The Owls have a tough start, facing Portsmouth, MK Dons, Peterborough, Charlton, and Bolton in their opening five fixtures, but if they can hit the ground running, then they could make serious statements. It’s hard to look past them as league winners at the minute, and the Yorkshire club can be found at 5.50 with Bet365 and similar prices elsewhere.
Their key competitors are going to be Peterborough, Derby, and Ipswich. All three teams are likely to be very competitive for the trophy. Peterborough knows what it takes to win this league, while Derby are newcomers but will be looking to bounce back under new owners after a miserable few years. Several bookmakers have Ipswich priced at second favorites at around 6.00. If the last few years have taught us anything though, it’s that backing Ipswich is never a good idea at this level.
As always, the same names for the league winners appear in the promotion category. Of the previously mentioned names, we think Peterborough offers the best value in this market, with odds of 4.5 being available with Bet365. Another major name we think is worth considering here is Bolton. Ian Evatt’s side missed the playoffs last season but they finished the league campaign in astonishing form. The team took a while to adapt to Evatt’s philosophy on the pitch, but it seems like everything is coming together for a sustained push this campaign. The club can be found at 5.00 with Unibet and several other sportsbooks.
Last year we backed Barnsley to go down in the Championship and you can never rule them out of bouncing straight back up. They are available at 6.00 for promotion and 3.5 to make the playoffs, both of which are attractive.
One of the hardest things to call across the EFL is the EFL League One Top Goalscorer betting market. The division is stacked with good striking talent. Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough, two of the sides we are tipping for promotion this year, both have strong frontlines.
Arguably the most eye-catching signing of the summer is Michael Smith joining Sheffield Wednesday from local rivals Rotherham United. Smith netted 19 on the way to securing promotion with the Millers last season and will hope to better that at Wednesday. The striker can be found at 13.00 with Bet365. His strike partner, Lee Gregory, is also great value at 15.00. He hit 17 last year and a bit of healthy competition at his own club could fire him on more.
The favorite of most sportsbooks is Jordan Clarke Harris from Peterborough. Harris netted 31 times when he fired the Posh to promotion two years ago, and will be looking to replicate that again. He is priced at 9.00 with Bet365. Elsewhere, surprise packages like Alfie May and Cole Stockton, playing at Cheltenham and Morecambe respectively, both offer good odds this year. May can be found at 21.00 with 23.00 with William Hill, while Stockton is as far out as 26.00 with Paddy Power. The biggest issue with these two is where they will end up this season, with both men being linked with moves to new clubs.
In terms of the stature of clubs, League One has to be the most uneven in England. While you have former Premiership sides like Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County duking it out up the top, there are plenty of much smaller clubs who could drop out of the division. Feasibly, there is an argument to be made that at least half of the division could be involved in a relegation battle next year.
All four of the division’s new boys - Bristol Rovers, Forest Green, Exeter, and Port Vale could find themselves down there, while perennial strugglers like Shrewsbury Town, Burton Albion, and Fleetwood could all easily be in with a shout of dropping. Then there are the overachievers from the last campaign which includes the likes of Cheltenham, now without Michael Duff, Cambridge, and Morecambe. Accrington Stanely is a consistent overachiever in the league, and without Colby Bishop, could find themselves in the scrap too.
So who do we tip? The odds are so tight, reflecting the unpredictable nature of it. If Morecambe loses Cole Stockton, they will likely be down, but they don’t offer huge value at 2.00 with Bet365. There is some slightly better value to be had with Port Vale and Exeter who can both be found at 3.00. Vale had a leaky defence last campaign, and have failed to really build on it over the summer.
If you are going to bet on this market, then it might be worth looking out at some of the dark horses if you want to find value, as it is very tight and there are few golden opportunities in terms of odds. Shrewsbury Town, for example, at 6.00 could be worth a punt. Cotterill has signed well at Salop but his squad lacks depth, and if Daniel Udoh dries up upfront, then his team could find themselves in real trouble without a clear plan B.
Let’s be adventurous and look at some outside shouts. One potential bet we do like is Bolton as League Winners at 15.00 with Bet365. As we’ve mentioned, Evatt’s men finished the season in fine form, and there is momentum behind the club at the moment. All of the pre-season talk around Wednesday and Derby has seen a lot of people forget just what a big club Bolton is at this level as well.
A more outrageous shout here would be Plymouth or Wycombe to be relegated. Both teams were very successful last season, but they did defy the odds. Wycombe, in particular, has punched for a few seasons now. They can both be found at 10.00 for the drop with Betfair.
This year’s League One looks set to be another exciting campaign. Let’s get our predictions down in black and white so we have something to look back at through our fingers this time next year.
All EFL League One betting odds were correct at the time of writing - July 24th 2022.