Following the FPL Template: February and March 2023
This is the fourth part of my FPL template series looking at everything that happened during February and March. With a mix of double game-weeks and blank game-weeks this is a difficult part of the season to navigate. Read on to find out how the FPL100 coped with all of the challenges thrown at them.
Game Week Twenty-Two
|Game Week 22||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 48
FPL100 Average Points: 91.18
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 100%
This game-week was 100% all about Manchester United. Man City lost 1-0 to Spurs, Arsenal lost 1-0 to Everton, Liverpool lost 3-0 to Wolves and Newcastle could only manage a 1-1 draw against West Ham. Popular players were blanking left, right and centre. However hope was not lost. Manchester United and Crystal Palace had a double game-week and the FPL100 were backing Manchester United heavily. Shaw, Fernandes and Rashford all had very high ownerships. Fernandes was by far the biggest riser in the FPL100 transfer market and Rashford joined Haaland on 100% ownership. Over the two games, Shaw got an assist, Fernandes got a goal and Rashford was the star of the show with two goals and an assist. These three players helped ensure every member of the FPL100 beat the overall average. The FPL100 average was a massive 91 points which was inflated by 40 managers using their triple-captain chip. With two of these managers backing Fernandes and the rest backing Rashford, it’s no wonder that the FPL100 average was so high. It didn’t matter that Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Newcastle players all blanked because this trio of Man United players had such a good week.
Game Week Twenty-Three
|Game Week 23||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 66
FPL100 Average Points: 82.56
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 95%
This was the third highest scoring game-week of the season so far for the average manager, boosted by a double game-week for Arsenal and Manchester City. It’s no surprise then that Haaland, Saka and De Bruyne were all highly owned, all captained by managers in the FPL100 and all got double digit returns. Eight managers also used their triple-captain chip on Haaland for a respectable 10 points, even if it doesn’t look quite a good as Rashford’s 20 points last week. It wasn’t a very busy week in the transfer market because managers already owned plenty of Arsenal and Manchester City players. Saka was by far the biggest riser in popularity, whilst the other popular purchases this week were Ødegaard, De Bruyne and Nketiah. All four players got returns with Saka and De Bruyne being the highest scoring players in the game this week. Despite the high scores this was a pretty unexciting game-week as the best strategy was so obvious. It didn’t take a lot to realise that you had to focus on the best Arsenal and Manchester City players this week.
Game Week Twenty-Four
|Game Week 24||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 44
FPL100 Average Points: 54.26
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 93%
In amongst all the double-game weeks, we have a normal game-week with just ten games and each team playing only once. How quaint! A little like two weeks ago, Man United players were some of the biggest performers with Rashford and Fernandes the only players to get multiple attacking returns. Whilst Rashford is still at 100% ownership and Shaw’s ownership is still very high, Fernandes has dropped down to 40% ownership. Kane, Saka and Ødegaard were the only other high ownership players to get points. Notably there were very few points from goalkeepers and defenders in the FPL100 apart from Shaw’s clean-sheet. It was a pretty subdued week for everyone with one of the lowest overall average scores of the season.
Game Week Twenty-Five
|Game Week 25||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 74
FPL100 Average Points: 89.92
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 93%
Game Week Twenty-Five was a complicated game-week. Because of the League Cup final, Manchester United and Newcastle United both had no fixture at the weekend along with their opponents, Brighton and Brentford. This made it much harder to field a full eleven this week with only 78% of the FPL100 able to do so. Because of this there were a lot more hits this week with 1.4 hits for the average FPL100 manager. Four managers played a wildcard or a free-hit chip and all four got great scores by doing so. However this wasn’t just a blank game-week because Arsenal, Wolves, Liverpool and Everton had a rearranged fixture and hence a double game-week.
The FPL100 were very focused on Liverpool this week. Salah, Alexander-Arnold and Darwin were the three big transfers this week and two of these three were very successful buys. Salah only got one goal but the extra points from playing twice still meant he had 11 points for the week. He was also very popular as captain and three managers triple-captained him this week. Alexander-Arnold did even better with 13 points from two clean-sheets. Darwin however was a flop. He missed the first game with a knock and blanked in the second game. This was especially painful for the one manager who used their triple-captain chip on him. They got a meagre two points whilst the rest of the FPL100 all got double digit returns from their captain. The popularity of these players squeezed out other Liverpool options including van Dijk who got a goal and six bonus points this week for a fantastic 24 points. Only three managers in the FPL100 were able to enjoy this bonanza of points.
Van Dijk might have had a great week but he wasn’t the top scorer this week. Martinelli scored the only goal against Leicester and bagged a brace against Everton for a total of 26 points, the best score for any player in a single game-week this season. Martinelli had a three week spell where he was in every single FPL100 team and as recently as game-week 22 he was in 70% of teams. A few weeks later he is now down to 21% of teams in the FPL100 as he has been squeezed out by the ownership of Saka, Nketiah, Ødegaard and White. All of these players got returns with Nketiah being the only one to not get double digits. Saka was a fairly popular captaincy choice and triple-captained by one manager.
Overall this was a very successful week for the FPL100 with high scores and lots of returns. However the FPL100 missed out on some of the highest scoring players in van Dijk and Martinelli whilst Darwin and Tarkowski were very highly owned. I’m pretty surprised that an Everton defender was the most popular defender this week. Tarkowski was a disappointment for his many owners after he got booked, conceded six goals in two games and ended the game-week with no points.
Game Week Twenty-Six
|Game Week 26||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 43
FPL100 Average Points: 49.47
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 61%
This was a wild game-week, and it might end up being one of the most memorable of the season. An incredible 72% of the FPL100 played their wildcard which caused massive swings in the transfer market. Seven players saw their ownership rise by over 50% whilst six players were transferred out by 50% of the FPL100. Six of the seven most transferred in players were Brighton or Brentford players as managers tried to cash in on next week’s double game-week. This led to mixed results for the current game-week. Toney and Estupiñán both delivered a return but the highest scoring of these players was Mitoma who was benched by over half of his owners. Raya, March and Henry were the other three Brentford and Brighton players who all blanked. Kane was the other player to rise by more than 50% this week and Spurs losing 1-0 to Wolves will be a concern for managers who picked him on the strength of his recent form and Spurs’ upcoming fixtures. It is striking that so many managers wildcarded at the same time, and teams are still very similar. The forward-line in particular was very template this week with Haaland, Kane and Toney in most teams.
It was interesting to see the players being bought, but the story of the week was who was being sold by the FPL100. Of the six players to be sold by 50% of the FPL100, only Nketiah blanked because he didn’t play. Andreas and White got 8 and 7 points respectively whilst Ward was the joint-highest scoring goalkeeper in the game with a penalty save and a clean-sheet. Penalty saves are clearly impossible to predict but the result no-one saw coming was Liverpool 7 Man United 0. It was a crazy second half where Liverpool were electric, scoring six goals against a demoralised Man United. Salah and Darwin were both unceremoniously dumped from the template this week but scored 33 points between them including a fantastic 21 points for Salah.
What made this week even worse for the FPL100 was captaincy. When they could have been captaining Salah for 21 extra points, the best captains in the FPL100 got four points. This meant that only 61% of the FPL100 beat the overall average which was one of the worst performances of the season and the worst since the world cup. However these wild card teams are being built with a long term game-plan in place so I expect the FPL100 to come back with a vengeance in the coming weeks.
Game Week Twenty-Seven
|Game Week 27||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 63
FPL100 Average Points: 98.64
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 99%
As I predicted the FPL100 did come back with a vengeance and there were massive scores all around. The average for the FPL100 was higher than ever before at 98.67 and an unprecedented 64 managers in the FPL100 got a score triple digit score for the game-week. Teams were filled with Brighton and Brentford players to take advantage of their double game-week and as the graphic shows there were returns for all of the important Brighton and Brentford players. The high scores this week more than made up for the disappointing scores seen last week. The decision to transfer out Salah and focus on the double game-week has really paid off. Seven more managers used their wildcards this week and they all recorded great scores between 80 to 105 points. The three managers who played the bench boost chip had a fantastic week all getting at least 30 points from the bench and over 130 points overall. They had clearly planned and prepared for this week.
The transfer market this week was pretty subdued with Brighton and Brentford players being the main targets. Since they all got returns it was a very successful week for making transfers this week. Brighton and Brentford players weren’t the only ones scoring points. Two goals and 13 points for Kane was another big boost for the FPL100 average. It was also a great week for some Arsenal players but the FPL100 did miss out on these points. Gabriel got a goal and a clean-sheet for 14 points but he was benched by the majority of managers in the FPL100. Even more overlooked was Trossard who assisted all three goals and was the game-week’s highest scoring player with 15 points. However he isn’t any of the FPL100 squads. Once you include Rashford, Saka and a couple of Brighton midfielders, managers were running out of spots for other options in midfield.
The big exception to all these great scores was Salah. After his monster haul last week, he missed a penalty in a 1-0 defeat to bottom of the table Bournemouth leaving him with zero points. Whilst 99 of the FPL100 captained a Brighton or Brentford player who got a double digit return, one manager decided to be a maverick, captained Salah and got zero. Brutal.
Game Week Twenty-Eight
|Game Week 28||Teams Captained||Points|
FPL Average Points: 33
FPL100 Average Points: 53.59
% of FPL100 managers who beat the FPL Average Points: 100%
This weekend coincided with the FA Cup Quarter finals which meant there were only seven games this week. If you are unprepared this week can be awful. When lots of the best players are absent it can wreck havoc on your team. The free-hit chip is a get-out-of-jail-free solution but that is often best saved for big double game-weeks later in the season. I have often used it in this type of game-week in years gone by but the FPL100 were clearly prepared and 90% of managers didn’t use any chip. Seven managers used their wildcards and had very mixed scores. This now means that 91% of the FPL100 have used their last wildcard. Three managers used their free-hit chip but none of them got a massive boost out of it with a score of 58 compared to the FPL100 average. In this type of game-week it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a full team of eleven players as long as you have most of the key players for the week.
The standout player this week was Saka who got two goals and an assist against a managerless Crystal Palace side that have been really struggling. Managers who captained him were pretty much guaranteed a great week. Kane was the most popular captain and whilst he got a goal in a 3-3 draw against Southampton, he was still twelve points behind Saka. Something else that stood out was the lack of clean-sheets with Aston Villa the only team not to concede. Mings was by far the highest scoring defender in the game with an assist and a clean-sheet but he was only owned by 2 managers in the FPL100.
There were quite a few hits taken this week but I was impressed that 78% of managers didn’t need to make any hits this week. After his drop last week, Haaland plummeted this week in ownership with his ownership dropping from 88% to 5%. This is crazy, especially given that he scored five goals in the Champions League in midweek and scored a hat-trick this weekend in the FA Cup. However he only has one game against Liverpool in the next two game-weeks where as a player like Watkins at Villa has three games against much easier opposition. This could backfire given Haaland’s current form but it was an overwhelmingly popular move with 73% of the FPL100 bring in Watkins this week. He got one assist this week but we really need to wait a week to find out if this move was worth it. A striker that I feel is being overlooked by the FPL100 is Isak. He has looked really good after coming back from injury and he was in only 13% of teams. Isak proved his worth with both goals in a 2-1 win away at Forest. Maddison and Chilwell were the other two players to see big increases in ownership this week although neither of them got spectacular returns. Chilwell was a very popular pick-up but Chelsea underwhelmed yet again with a 2-2 draw at home to Everton.
My next article in this series will come out when the season has finished. Between now and then, there are going to be some massive double game-weeks. Will the FPL100 be able to capitalise and continue their strong performances? Join me at the end of May to find out.