Following the FPL Template: August and September 2022
Following the FPL Template: August and September 2022
There is always a lot of talk in FPL about the template, but this season the template has seemed stronger than ever. As an experiment I have picked a group of 100 famous FPL managers I’m calling the FPL100. This includes famous content creators and managers with a proven track record of success. I’m tracking the ownership of players in the FPL100 and I’m going to follow the ups and downs of the template across the season.
I’ve put a graphic together to represent the most owned and most played players each week. Each row represents a different position with goalkeepers at the top, then defenders, midfielders and finally forwards at the bottom. The six most popular players in each position are shown and ranked in popularity with the most popular players in each position shown on the left. This measure of popularity combines players ownership with how many managers started each player in a given week. The template isn’t just about the starting eleven and there are often template picks on the bench that I wanted to cover as well. However I want the focus to be on players that are starting and getting points.
The colours of the shirts and the text boxes also have meaning. A blue shirt means the majority of owners started that player whilst a grey shirt means the majority of owners benched that player. This is calculated after automatic substitutions for the week. The colour of the text box shows the transfer activity for that player in the previous week. A green box means their ownership rose, a red one means it fell and a white one means their ownership didn’t change. With that out of the way let’s see how the template handled the beginning of a new season.
Game Week One
|Game Week 1||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 57
FPL100 Average Points: 68.95
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 89%
We definitely started the season with a very clear template. Thirteen players were in over 50% of the FPL100 teams and Alexander Arnold was in every single team. Five other players had extremely high ownership and were each in at least 94 teams. Unsurprisingly Liverpool were heavily represented in the template with managers targeting their first game at home to Fulham. Salah kept up his fantastic record on the opening day with a goal and assist for 12 points. He was the clear best choice for captain this week with 92 of the 95 managers who owned Salah captaining him.
This fixture was far less rewarding for other Liverpool assets. Fulham were excellent and the game ended 2-2 with Fulham twice taking the lead. Mitrović scored both goals for a great 13 points but wasn’t in any of the FPL100 teams. With 95% of teams having both Trent and Salah, there was heavy competition for the third Liverpool spot and Robertson edged out Dias in most teams. This faith in the defence didn’t pay off with only one point for the defenders. Darwin was interesting because he came off the bench and got a goal and assist, which meant he scored 9 points in just 39 minutes. Despite playing upfront for Liverpool, he only appeared in two teams.
The Robertson-Dias dilemma was left unanswered this week, but there was another high profile split in the community between Haaland and Kane. Kane had the far easier fixture at home to Southampton but blanked. Haaland started the season with two goals away to West Ham, rewarding the 75% of the FPL100 who owned him. Interestingly none of them captained him. The Spurs player who stood out in their 4-1 victory was Kulusevski with 13 points. Because of the Chelsea fixture in game-week two and uncertainty over where Richarlison will play, only 8 teams in the FPL100 owned Kulusevski.
The final dilemma which was discussed at length by the community was around cheap midfielders. Fulham’s Andreas was on almost every single bench and after seeing Fulham play he looked like an absolute bargain at £4.5 million. The next best cheap midfielder was harder to identify. There was a big split between Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey and Wolves’ Pedro Neto and whilst a lot of people spent a lot of time debating who was better, in the end both players started the season with a blank.
Perhaps the most shocking part of the template was in goal. With the surprise departure of Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester would be playing Ward or Iverson who were both priced at just four million. This happened just before the season began and whilst I expected some managers to be tempted I didn’t think so many managers would jump on the bandwagon and go for the Leicester double-up. Ward ended up being the highest owned goalkeeper, the most played, and a disappointment to 47% of the FPL100 by conceding twice at home to Brentford whilst not getting any save points.
I have a few honourable mentions for this week. Pascal Groß scored twice in a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford but was not in a single FPL100 team. Meanwhile James and Cancelo were very highly owned, which is no surprise, but they both got two bonus points each despite no attacking returns and both players getting booked. They were heavily involved in their team’s attacking play and I could see both of them getting monster hauls in the near future.
Game Week Two
|Game Week 2||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 57
FPL100 Average Points: 68.9
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 99%
Game week two is when managers can start to make transfers. Most managers preferred to bank a transfer for game week three, but out of the transfers that did happen two thirds involved strikers. The big story of the week was Kane being transferred out before his game against Chelsea and players picking up Haaland before his game against Bournemouth. 18 managers in the FPL100 transferred out Kane, leaving him in only 5 teams, whilst 17 players brought in Haaland, who is now up to 92% ownership with all but one owner giving him the captaincy. Hilariously Kane actually outscored Haaland. Kane netted in a feisty 2-2 draw with Chelsea whilst Haaland only managed an assist in a 4-0 win against Bournemouth. Haaland only had eight touches during the game which was very unexpected for a player who is expected to be the focus of the Man City attack.
Two players who were overlooked for captaincy had fantastic weeks. De Bruyne was only captained by 3 managers because he was only owned by 4 managers. His goal and assist helped him get a very respectable 14 points. One player who was owned by almost everybody but captained by absolutely no-one was Jesus who went mad against Leicester. He was involved in every goal with two goals and two assists making him the highest scoring player in the game this week. He must now be a consideration for captaincy in future weeks after being completely overlooked.
Honourable mentions this week go to a couple of low ownership goalkeepers. Whilst 80% of FPL100 managers only got one point from their goalkeepers, Henderson and Sá got 14 and 15 points respectively but were only owned by one manager each. Last but not least the result of the weekend was Brentford thrashing Manchester United 4-0. This was a shocking result and performance for Manchester United and a terrible start for Erik ten Hag, their new manager. Dishonourable mentions go to Mitrović and Darwin who both saw managers transfer them in after good returns last week. Mitrović missed a penalty and Darwin got sent off, so both ended up with a negative score.
Game Week Three
|Game Week 3||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 48
FPL100 Average Points: 48.3
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 49%
With most managers having two free transfers available we saw lots of activity on the transfer market. Nine players were now in 90% of the FPL100 teams with Martinelli and James seeing big jumps in their ownership. In fact Martinelli overtook Salah this week as the most popular midfielder and became the joint third-highest owned player in the FPL100. Cucurella and Luis Diaz were the two biggest risers this week with Cucurella jumping from 1% to 28% ownership in the FPL100 after getting an assist and playing the full 90 minutes last week against Spurs. We saw the first chip usage in the FPL100 with two managers playing their first wildcard.
Four players saw big drops in FPL100 ownership. Robertson was dropped by half the managers who owned him, in part because players wanted to buy Luis Diaz. I find it interesting that he saw such a big decrease in ownership whilst Alexander-Arnold maintained his record of being in every single FPL100 team. The cheap midfielders I mentioned in game-week one, Neto and Bailey both saw big drops in ownership as did Rashford. I must mention that both Rashford and Bailey got returns this week.
The template may have become stronger this week, but it had a pretty underwhelming performance with 51% of the FPL100 failing to beat the average score for all FPL managers. The single biggest reason for this was the failure of premium defenders to get returns. Liverpool lost 2-1 to Manchester United, Manchester City drew 3-3 with Newcastle and Chelsea lost 3-0 to Leeds. The likes of James, Cucurella, Cancelo, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson all got nothing this week. There were some high scores in defence with Trippier getting a goal and Perišić getting a goal and an assist. Other defences to do well this week were the Arsenal and Brighton defences but their defenders didn’t feature the majority of teams.
This was a really medium week for captaincy with most managers going for Salah. He was the highest scoring player of the captains chosen but only by a few points. 89% of FPL100 managers captaining Salah was a high number, but there was a little more diversity of picks for captain this week.
Two honourable mentions this week were Zaha and Rodrigo. They both joined the FPL100 player pool this week and rewarded their managers with double digit hauls. This was also a fascinating week in the league. Arsenal and Newcastle looked like the real deal whilst Chelsea looked poor and Liverpool were having an absolutely awful start to the season. Manchester United however were fantastic against Liverpool despite being awful themselves a week ago. There was a lot to think about for FPL managers.
Game Week Four
|Game Week 4||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 62
FPL100 Average Points: 72.09
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 86%
There were two stand-out results this weekend. Liverpool thrashed Bournemouth 9-0 to get their first win of the season and Haaland showed his true potential with a hat-trick against Crystal Palace. The Liverpool game was fascinating for FPL because some players got massive hauls and others didn’t. Firmino got 22 points from two goals and three assists whilst Alexander-Arnold got a goal, an assist and a clean-sheet. Not everyone was so successful this week. Salah was the overwhelming captaincy favourite for the FPL100 but he failed to get any returns in a 9-0 victory which is absurd. Two managers who bet against the crowd were rewarded with 17 points for Haaland and Alexander-Arnold. Haaland isn’t going to stay a maverick pick for very long and Alexander-Arnold was a rare example of a defender getting captained. Notably one manager in the FPL100 actually took Haaland out this week which must have been extremely painful.
The transfer market continued to churn as 5 managers used their wildcard and Jesus became the second player to reach 100% ownership in the FPL100. The big climbers were the Brighton goalkeeper Sanchez, Perišić, and the Leeds midfielder Rodrigo. Sanchez and Perišić both gave instant returns and Sanchez was a clear answer to Leicester’s terrible defensive woes with Iverson being one of the most sold players. Neto and Bailey continued their fall from grace as the other players to see big drops in ownership.
Overall this was a less eventful week compared to some of the previous weeks. The FPL100 outperformed the average FPL score but many of the most template players actually blanked with only James, Haaland and Alexander-Arnold getting returns.
Game Week Five
|Game Week 5||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 62
FPL100 Average Points: 82.01
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 98%
The FPL100 had a fantastic week this week with the highest FPL100 average so far. This was in no small part to the phenomenon that is Haaland getting another hat-trick against Forest only days after his last one. He was the most popular captain for the FPL100 but this was the first time this season where there was a real split for the captaincy with a third of managers opting for Salah. Salah was a good pick with two assists netting him 10 points but they still missed out on 7 extra points by not captaining Haaland. It’s fascinating to see Haaland go from a maverick pick last week to the most popular pick this week. I think some managers were worried about Haaland being rotated for a mid-week game but I suspect back-to-back hat-tricks will cement him as the best captaincy pick every week going forward.
The other big news this week was Reece James being ill ahead of the Southampton match. His FPL100 ownership plummeted with over a third of the FPL100 taking him out. On top of the injury there were also concerns about Chelsea’s defence and about James getting into offensive positions less often. The anxiety over Chelsea’s defence was justified after Chelsea lost that game to Southampton 2-1. James’s absence and a few transfers out for Cancelo meant there were now only 7 players in 90% of all FPL100 teams. Taking out Cancelo must have mean painful as he was one of the few defenders to get returns this week with only Manchester City, Manchester United, Bournemouth and Wolves the only teams to keep a clean-sheet.
Transfers this week mostly followed the trends of previous weeks with players like Sanchez and Perišić continuing to grow in popularity. Groß and Cucurella were also popular signings this week but unfortunately none of these players got any returns so very few managers in the FPL100 had any new signings hit the ground running.
Game Week Six
|Game Week 6||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 45
FPL100 Average Points: 41.4
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 25%
This week was a disaster and by far the worst week yet for the FPL100 with only a quarter of my hundred managers able to beat the average score. When you look at the fixtures it looked like it would be a good week with great fixtures for lots of high ownership players. There were almost no returns for any goalkeepers, defenders or midfielders who were popular in the FPL100. The one manager who owned Sá was the only manager to get a return from their goalkeeper and it wasn’t much better in defence. Trippier was the only defender with significant ownership to keep a clean-sheet so most managers in the FPL100 got no clean-sheets this week. The Liverpool defence was frustrating again but for all the wrong reasons. They got their second clean-sheet of the season but both Alexander-Arnold and Robertson didn’t play enough minutes to get clean-sheet points during their 0-0 draw with Everton. Nico Williams did get an assist which meant he matched the combined score of Alexander-Arnold, Cancelo and James.
It was just as bad in midfield. Rashford was the player of the week with two goals and an assist against league leaders Arsenal who dropped points for the first time this season. However Rashford was only in four of the FPL100 teams. The highest owned midfielder in the FPl100 to score a goal was Bailey who was still in five teams but because he was playing Manchester City all five of those managers benched him. Forwards were the only players to perform consistently this weekend with Kane, Toney and Haaland all getting returns. Toney almost matched Rashford with 17 points for a hat-trick against Leeds.
After James had been sold off by many managers last week, we saw many managers buying him back this week which made James the most popular transfer target. Sanchez also continued to rise in popularity. Perišić’s ownership plummeted with 26 managers selling him because they correctly predicted he would be rested this game-week. Rodrigo was also sold by many managers after only playing 30 minutes in the last game-week. We also saw Martinelli match Alexander-Arnold’s achievement of being owned by all 100 managers in the FPl100.
There was some diversity amongst captaincy picks this week with six different picks. 80% of managers got returns from their captain with Salah being the only popular captaincy pick to blank.
One manager went quite maverick this week by being the first to play their bench boost chip and captaining Alexander-Arnold. They didn’t get that many points from the bench boost but all fifteen of their players had good fixtures and their two highest scoring defenders were on their bench. Captaining a defender is usually frowned upon but if Alexander-Arnold had played two more minutes he would have gone from one point to six so it almost paid off.
Game Week Seven
Game Week Seven was a very unexpected blank game week with the death of Queen Elizabeth leading to all premier league games being cancelled this weekend. This means everyone got zero points this week unless they took hits and it also means there will be double game-weeks later in the season. This makes planning your FPL team harder but does it offer opportunities to get some bumper scores, especially when combined with chips. It also means there was only transfer news to cover this week. Trippier had a massive rise after an incredibly consistent start to the season with 37 managers in the FPL100 buying him in this week. Rashford and Mitrovic were also very popular this week. The list of players being sold this week was fascinating. After six weeks of unity and every single manager owning Alexander-Arnold from the start of the season, he was sold by 20 managers leaving Martinelli as the only player owned by 100% of the FPL100. Salah also dropped with six managers losing faith in him. Jesus also saw a big drop as he was sold by 16 managers. All three of these players play for Arsenal or Liverpool, and both of these teams have a much tougher run of fixtures coming up so it’s understandable why managers are taking these players out of their teams.
Game Week Eight
|Game Week 8||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 50
FPL100 Average Points: 59.61
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 92%
After a weekend of mourning came the weekend before the Queen’s funeral. Since the police had to prepare for the funeral they weren’t able to provide policing for every game this weekend which led to some matches going ahead whilst others were postponed. This turbo-charged the transfer market this week with wild swings in ownership as managers tried to field as many players as possible. We saw 55% of managers use their wildcard and another 21% take a hit, which at first glance sounds like a big reaction to only three games getting cancelled. However the wildcard has to be used before the world cup so the opportunity cost of using it now is fairly low. It also allows managers to capitalise on swings in the fixtures with Brighton, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United all facing tougher opponents in the coming weeks. This lined up pretty well with the cancelled games with Arsenal being the only one of those four teams to play this week. Liverpool assets in particular were sold by everyone with Salah being sold by 77% of managers and Alexander-Arnold being sold by 56%. These are crazy numbers for players who were in 95% and 100% of all teams at the start of the season.
A lot of other players had big drops in ownership as well. Players like Sanchez, Groß, Rashford and Cucurella all had a blank game-week so it made sense for these players to be sold. I don’t quite understand why so many Arsenal players were sold this week. Saliba and Jesus both punished managers who sold them by scoring goals. Saliba got 15 points with a clean-sheet whilst Jesus was sold by a remarkable 45% of managers. The Leicester goalkeepers also dropped in ownership which makes sense because using your wildcard is the perfect opportunity to change your goalkeepers.
Six players were brought in by more than 30% of managers in the FPL100. These were Kane, Maddison, De Bruyne, Trippier, Mitrović and Pope. The net result of all these transfers was that almost every manager could field a full team this week. Every manager had at least ten players get minutes and only six managers couldn’t field a full team. With returns for a majority of the most template players this was a good week for the FPL100 and 92% of the managers I follow managed to beat the overall FPL average.
On to the actual games! Lots of Manchester city assets got returns in a 3-0 win away to Aston Villa. Haaland was the overwhelming favourite for captaincy and returned six points after scoring once. In fact, this was the first week that every manager in the FPL100 got returns but it was the maverick managers that captained Spurs assets who fared best. Their players got the biggest returns after a 6-2 demolition of Leicester. Son in particular was the star of the week despite starting on the bench. He hadn’t scored for Spurs yet this season but came off the bench to get a hat-trick.
Join me at the end of November for the next instalment to see how the template shifts and changes before the Premier League stops for the world cup.