Following the FPL Template: December 2022 and January 2023

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series FPL 2022/23

Following the FPL Template: December 2022 and January 2023

This is the third part of my FPL template series looking at everything that happened during December and January. Everyone had unlimited transfers during the world cup break and we get our first double game-weeks of the season. Read on to find out how the FPL100 coped with all of this.

Game Week Seventeen

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Game Week 17 Teams Captained Points
Haaland 100 13

FPL Average Points: 72
FPL100 Average Points: 91.37
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 99%
With domestic football returning for the Boxing Day fixtures after the world cup hiatus, this was a bit of a new beginning for FPL managers. Everyone had unlimited transfers and almost every manager in the FPL100 made use of this opportunity. 99 managers made at least five transfers which is a pretty decent transformation whilst some managers made far more transfers with the record being 59. That’s a lot of tinkering! At the other end of the scale one manager made 0 transfers. The effect of all this transfer action was that teams became more similar than they had been in the weeks before the international break. Kepa, Reece James, Rashford and Ben White were all big reasons for this with huge increases in ownership. Five players were in 90% of teams which was actually lower than some parts of the season. However what made teams feel very similar was the fact that there were only 24 players in 10% or more of the FPL100 which was a record low for the season. In contrast there had been 34 players above that 10% threshold before the season stopped for the world cup. Things were especially template in goal where the majority of managers have both Kepa and Ward.

It might be less exciting when template teams are popular, but this was a strong week for the template with consistently high scores across the board. The overall average was substantially higher than any previous week and 99% of the FPL100 managed to beat and in some cases substantially so. For the second time this season we saw FPL100 managers beat 100 points with twelve managers getting triple digit scores. Haaland was once again at the centre of this. He was an obvious choice for captain this week, being fully rested during the world cup and he returned to 100% ownership this week and was captained by 100% of the audience. He justified this faith with two goals and thirteen points as one of the highest scoring players of the week. Rashford, Trippier and Kepa were the highest ownership players in the other positions and all of them had great game-weeks which explains why the FPL100 average score went above 90 for the first time this season. If not for an injury to Reece James, the template team would have scored even higher with him being denied a clean-sheet for only playing 53 minutes.

There are two players that I wanted to highlight. Salah’s FPL100 ownership has had peaks and troughs this season and dropped again this week. Those who kept faith were rewarded with a goal and an assist against Aston Villa. A player who is even more out of favour in the FPL100 was Mitrović who now only appears in four teams in the FPL100 and he was benched by three of those managers. His goal and two assists against Palace made him the highest scoring player of the game-week. These are both players I want to keep an eye on and see if they can recover the popularity that they once had.

Game Week Eighteen

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Game Week 18 Teams Captained Points
Haaland 98 6
Salah 2 2

FPL Average Points: 48
FPL100 Average Points: 53.87
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 88%
After an explosive return for FPL after the world cup the final game-week of 2022 was a much more subdued affair. Only four players got multiple returns this week with Martinelli being the only one with significant ownership and Ødegaard was only owned by 2% of the FPL100. Olise and Toney were the other players to get high scores which was interesting as Toney was the third-most popular forward in the FPL100 for a while but is now owned by none of the FPL100 managers. He has been charged with a large number of betting offences and is expected to get a lengthy ban at some point so that may have helped put managers off. Captaincy was also pretty dull this week with Haaland once again the overwhelming favourite. A couple of mavericks went with Salah over Haaland which didn’t work out. Liverpool did beat Leicester 2-1 but they relied on two own goals by Faes to do so.

The injury to Reece James I mentioned last week was the biggest driver in the transfer market as once again managers scrambled to replace Reece James. The other factor this week was Mitrović who as I predicted did recover some of his popularity again. However this week his penalty against Southampton was saved, leaving him on zero points for the week. That’s quite a contrast to last week when he was the highest scoring player in the game.

Game Week Nineteen

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Game Week 19 Teams Captained Points
Mitrovic 71 5
Haaland 14 2
Andreas 5 5
Salah 3 2
Mount 2 4
Havertz 2 4
Sterling 2 1
Rashford 1 8

FPL Average Points: 49
FPL100 Average Points: 55.72
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 85%
With lots of games cancelled last year we are going to end up with lots of teams playing twice in one game-week to catch up. This was the first such double game-week which makes it exciting, even if only two teams had an extra fixture. The extra game was Fulham vs Chelsea but notably Chelsea played Man City as their first game this week. Mitrović was the overwhelming favourite for captaincy and one manager even used their triple-captain chip on him. He scored in the first game but unfortunately he also got his fifth yellow card of the season which prevented him from playing in the second game. Five points isn’t a disaster but it was a disappointment for all the managers who brought him in and especially the manager who used their triple-captain chip. Three more managers used a chip this week with the bench boost chip earning them between 11 and 14 points. Bench boosting is often underwhelming so these scores aren’t awful but I feel like there are going to be so many double game-weeks this year that managers will have much better opportunities to do so then game-week nineteen.

In the transfer market Mitrović and Shaw were the two big transfer targets. Martial to Shaw was a very popular transfer and Shaw was a very popular replacement for the injured Reece James. Shaw provided an instant impact with a goal and a clean-sheet against Bournemouth for a fantastic 15 points. Only Kane did better with 16 points from two goals and an assist as Spurs demolished Crystal Palace 4-0. Kane has very low ownership in the FPL100 at 7% and a couple of managers even sold him this week. Ouch! This was a week where it really felt like so many people were making the same two transfers with Martial and James making way for Mitrović and Shaw. This suggests teams will continue to look very similar for quite a while. Perhaps it will take a player like Kane to have an impact. Not everyone will be able or willing to move money around their team to bring Kane in, but some might be tempted after weeks like this one which could lead to more divergence in the FPL100 teams.

Game Week Twenty

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Game Week 20 Teams Captained Points
Haaland 96 8
De Bruyne 2 5
Rashford 1 12
Kane 1 7

FPL Average Points: 59
FPL100 Average Points: 78.39
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 100%
Immediately after our first double game-week of the season we immediately had another with Manchester City, Arsenal, Spurs and Palace all playing twice. Once again these teams didn’t have ideal fixtures this week but their players are so good that it was still a great time to invest in these teams. There were lots of dramatic results this week. United beat City in the Manchester derby thanks to a terrible offside decision and Brighton trounced Liverpool 3-0. Spurs had a terrible week losing 2-0 to their arch-rivals Arsenal and then losing 4-2 to Man City after leading 2-0. Amongst all this drama there were some huge scores with three players getting 19 points this week. Mahrez and Fernandes were both stars of the double game-week and both were owned by only 13% of the FPL100. Even more dramatic was Solly March who wasn’t owned by a single manager in the FPL100. Since he only had a single fixture against Liverpool this isn’t too surprising but his two goals and an assist in this game meant he has now scored 44 points in FPL since the world cup.

There was a flurry of chip usage this week with nearly half of the FPL100 using a chip. One manager used their free-hit and was rewarded with 91 points, in no small part thanks to Mahrez. Another manager used a wildcard for a respectable 80 points. However, the main reason people used a chip was to triple-captain Haaland in a double game-week. Given how explosive Haaland has been, only one goal and a few extra appearance points feels like a pretty disappointing use of the triple-captain chip. The problem is that managers want to use free-hit chips, wildcards and bench-boosts in the bigger double game-weeks so this was a very reasonable use of the triple-captain chip given the difficulty of predicting double game-weeks. I think the difficulty of the fixtures is the only reason we didn’t see far more managers in the FPL100 use the triple-captain chip. All this chip usage also helps explain why we had 100% of the FPL100 beat the overall average for the first time this season.

The transfer market was also very busy and a lot of managers took hits this week. Only 32% of the FPL100 didn’t take a hit which is by far the lowest percentage for this stat so far this season. Like previous weeks there were three big trends. In defence Cancelo was dumped by 50% of the FPL100. He was facing a real challenge for his place in the starting line-up from Rico Lewis and it emerged that Cancelo was likely to leave on loan by the end of the transfer window. Managers were split on who to replace him with. Luke Shaw and Doherty were the two defenders who rose the most in popularity this week, but we also saw Botman and Aké become more popular. It was a simpler picture further forward. In midfield 41% of the FPL100 sold Salah and 35% bought in De Bruyne. Upfront 60% sold the injured Darwin and 65% brought in Kane. The double game-weeks seem to have pushed managers towards a template team as they all scramble to have the best players with doubles each week. I expect a lot more double game-weeks this season so I don’t think the template is going to go away any time soon.

Game Week Twenty-One

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Game Week 21 Teams Captained Points
Haaland 91 17
De Bruyne 4 6
Kane 4 6
Mitoma 1 10

FPL Average Points: 65
FPL100 Average Points: 76.57
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 91%
After the excitement of a double game-week we were back to normal with one game per team and no chips being played. The headline of course was that Haaland scored another hat-trick, this time getting all three goals in a 3-0 win against Wolves. The other options considered by FPL100 managers all got at least a return but it was still a painful week for those who decided to captain anyone else. Interestingly ten teams kept a clean-sheet this week so there were fewer returns for most midfielders and forwards this week. The only other players to get a brace were Nketiah and Bowen. Bowen isn’t owned by anyone in the FPL100 and whilst Nketiah was owned by six managers in the FPL100, only four of those managers decided to play him.

Despite the clean-sheets it wasn’t plain sailing for the defenders in FPL100. Whilst Tripper continued his excellent form, the other two highly-owned defenders in the FPL100, White and Shaw, got zero points after both were booked in Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Manchester United. Overall this was a pretty uneventful week if you want to see a change to the template. The highest ownership players in each position all got returns and I don’t see any big reasons for managers to deviate from the template. As shown by those who didn’t captain Haaland, you can get very punished if you try to do something different. It was a very quiet week in the transfer market with managers conserving transfers for next week, which once again is a double game-week.

We are now past the halfway point of the season. Join me at the end of March to see how the FPL100 handle another batch of double game-weeks.

Series Navigation<< Following the FPL Template: October and November 2022Following the FPL Template: February and March 2023 >>