THE TEMPLATE – PART 1

This article is intended as the first of a number this season looking at THE TEMPLATE, to be updated as the template evolves, looking at the must-own players of the moment and gazing into the crystal ball to predict what players might become template over the coming weeks.

The Template is referred to regularly on our FFUK WhatsApp Group and across FPL Blogs and it essentially describes a notional team containing those players we see appearing regularly across FPL squads. In many respects it’s a measure of the popularity of a player, not necessarily among all squads, but more among the high performing teams – in terms of total points and form.

The opposite of a template player is the differential. A player owned by few but who you hope will score heavily and so give you a significant advantage on rivals. The Differential is often discussed and debated ……. but which FPL manager can put their hand on their heart and say that they regularly draft in a differential that delivers? I know I can’t.

In essence, then, The Template is what FPL managers are striving to achieve. The Template will rarely deliver explosively high gameweek scores, but it will, far more often than not, deliver better-than-average scores. It will deliver week in week out and their managers should therefore see small incremental progress up mini leagues.

The main reason for this is that you’re looking for players that lots of other managers have. If you suffer, they suffer. If you gain, they gain. Risk is significantly reduced, but as are rewards. The crucial additional element though is that these should be players we can rely on to deliver week after week. That’s why they are so popular, and why template teams do well. Not really well, just well. Well enough for green arrows most weeks. It’s not exciting or sexy – but it’s the way to win.

template

So, as we prepare our teams for gameweek 6, which players constitute “The Template”?

One assumption first. This represents my own views of FPL team selection. Many will disagree, but then this game is more art than science! There’s many different solutions to the same problem. I avoid having more than one player from a single team in either defence (including goalkeepers) or attack (forwards and midfield). Usually one, maximum two, teams will be free-scoring enough to warrant two attacking players, but I would never advocate more than two attackers from one team. I just don’t like putting too many eggs in one basket. At present there are two teams warranting two attacking players: United and City. They are the form teams in the Premiership and scoring bucket loads of goals. No other team is currently consistent enough.

So where shall we start? Well % ownership is as good a place as any. The very highest owned players must be automatically considered template and there is no higher-owned player than Lukaku (11.7). At time of writing 55.8% of squads have him in it. Imagine if he bags a hatty and you haven’t got him. It’s just impossible to take that risk – he’s the first name on the team-sheet.

rom template

Let’s switch to the midfield. When I first considered writing this article I considered there were three automatic pairs of choices: Alli or Eriksen, Salah or Mane, Pogba or Miki. It didn’t really matter which of each pair you picked, you would be fairly guaranteed a decent haul of points. Then Mane got his red card and Pogba got his injury …… so I brought in Salah and Miki …… and they both delivered going some way to proving my point! So, for now Salah (9.2) and Miki (8.5) look template, backed up by the fact that they are two of the highest-owned midfielders in the game. Alli (9.5) or Eriksen (9.7) remains a live choice and are the 2nd and 4th most-owned midfielders. You pays your money you takes your choice.

Now I’m going to get controversial. I said earlier that only United and City warrant having two attacking players. If you go for Alli or Eriksen (and in my view, you must) this rules out Kane. His ownership is at 28.4% – this does not automatically make him template in my view and his form doesn’t warrant automatic selection either (yet!).

What we are missing are the two City players. With three high-priced midfielders already selected we’re realistically looking at one mid-priced midfielder and one high-priced attacker. On this basis the only choice for midfielder is David Silva (8.3). He is a much cheaper than alternatives like The Ginger Prince and, thus far at least, he’s a nailed-on starter.
david silva
The other City choice then is a straight fight between Aguero or Jesus. Both are in cracking form. Aguero has the history, but Jesus seems to have the guaranteed starts (even if he keeps getting hooked around the 60-minute mark). Jesus is cheaper than Aguero at 11.6, and while the form, % ownership and points-to-date are all with Aguero, the high spend on the midfield means we need to save the money and go with Jesus (10.5).
Now, let’s turn to the defence. Here I think it’s useful to set a budget, especially given how much we’ve already spent in attack! Given a budget of around 101 (our teams have typically appreciated in value) a rough split of 67 for attack and 34 for defence looks sensible. By far the most-owned defender is De Gea (5.5) at 35.2% so I’m drafting him in for my template. I’m also drafting in the second most popular goalkeeper, Rob Elliot (4.1). He is the only budget goalkeeper currently starting and helps us save money to spend elsewhere. This leaves us 23.4 or so to spend on defenders.
Again, let’s sniff out a good budget (c.4.0) option. The obvious choice is Mbemba (4.0) who looks a regular starter, however I do not advise having two Newcastle defenders. Those eggs and baskets again. The only live option seems to be Liam Rosenior (4.0) who looks like he might have forced his way into the Brighton first team. 19.4 left. We’re maxed out on United, but looking at form we need a City defender too. Rotation is a risk for most positions, but the one who looks nailed on, and is also good value is Otamendi (5.6).
13.8 left for three defenders. A Tottenham asset looks essential having continued their penchant for a clean sheet from last season. The most popular and best value option looks to be Ben Davies (5.7) – he missed last week with a niggle but should be back for gameweek 6 and beyond. 9.1 left for two players. Here we’re looking for two budget, nailed-on defenders with the potential for attacking returns. There’s a few options but Naughton (4.5) and Ward (4.5) look lively candidates.
naughton kyle

Back to the attack. We’ve spent 57.8 (assuming we selected Alli) so far there leaving 9.2 to spend. This isn’t very much! Budget enablers it is! Hemed (4.9) and Tom Carroll (4.5) for example. This puts us 0.2 over budget but I’m hoping you’ll be able to get them in by already having some of these players and therefore not having to suck up all their price increases! So, there we have it. Our template:

De Gea, Elliot.

Otamendi, B. Davies, Rosenior, Naughton, Ward

D. Silva, Alli, Salah, Miki, T. Carroll

Lukaku, Jesus, Hemed

I have 9 of these so there’s probably a load of confirmation bias baked in. Aguero looks a great option up front, but that will mean ditching one of the four higher priced Midfielders. One advantage of this would be that a switch to a Gross, Doucoure, Ritchie, Mooy or Choupo-Moting would allow an upgrade elsewhere – probably Hemed to a Chicarito, Wood or Rooney. The question is – which of those midfielders to ditch? For now I can’t see how it’s sensible to ditch any of them …..

Peering ahead there are two players noticeable by their absence, and which we must keep a close eye on: Hazard and Sanchez. If either starts firing they must come straight in and given their price points that’s going to the change the dynamic.
Let the WhatsApp debate begin!
Paul Baker (5th in the league in case you needed reminding) 😉
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