Paul Williams ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ – Breaking the Template


Here’s FFGeek contributor Paul Williams with his bi-weekly ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ series. This week, Paul has looked at how this season’s established template is gradually being broken. Paul is one of the Top 10 FPL Managers I follow and finished with an overall rank of 412 last season, 1,382 in 16/17 and 7,164 in 15/16.

Paul Williams ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ – Breaking the Template

You can read more from Paul in his ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ series on his Facebook blog using this link.


There has been four Gameweeks since my last article and the template, as it were, has been well and truly shattered. I can remember looking at my front line of Aguero, Arnautovic and Wilson in Gameweek Thirteen and thinking, ‘I’m happy with that.’ Fast-forward three weeks later to now and Aguero’s out with an unclarified injury, Arnautovic is done for the year and Wilson is half-crocked too.

Aguero’s absence has had a profound impact on the FPL landscape. In three Gameweeks, his ownership has halved and more than 1.5 million managers have removed him from their teams. Fantasy Managers have largely been torn between two different, premium options: Aubameyang or Kane. Choosing between the two and weighing up the positives convinced many that both were required. As a result, something had to give in midfield and Salah or Hazard became the fall-guys being replaced by Sterling, Sane or an even cheaper option for those with limited funds.

None of those decisions were bad decisions and I’m sure, for many, they were backed up by extensive thought, planning and research. However, most people have had their say on the way forward after such a pivotal week and I thought I would have my two pence worth too!

I will go through each position and touch upon how the template is starting to shift.

Goalkeepers and Defenders:

Firstly, I think it is healthy that what was such a fixed template for the first third of the season is now broken. City, although defensively sound, keep letting in a goal here or there and their defence lacks attacking verve without Mendy. Consequently, a City defender is no longer deemed ‘essential’ by many. Also, with Pep’s penchant for rotation, the only secure option is Ederson in goal.

On the flip side, a Liverpool defender does seem wise whether that be: Robertson, van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold (if fit) or Lovren (who should be less prone to rotation due to the injuries sustained by Joe Gomez and Joel Matip).

Fairly or unfairly, the most expensive defender in the game and FPL darling, Marcos Alonso, has been under the microscope recently which has seen him on the receiving end of a fair amount of stick from observers. For me, as long as his place is secure in the Chelsea team, he has a place in mine – but Sarri is having to start justifying his inclusion in the team… a worrying situation worth keeping an eye on.

Finally, a player I really regret not picking up – Matt Doherty. What a player he is turning out to be. His already healthy ownership is only going to continue to rise.


Earlier on in the season, I went five Gameweeks without Salah and I hated every moment. He still dominates the game for me. When you don’t own him, you worry about it and honestly, I didn’t find it enjoyable at all. We can complain about his price and how he’s not the same as last year but off the back of his hat-trick, he is now the top scoring player by twelve points.

Alternatives to Salah include: Hazard and Sterling – and that’s exactly what they are ‘alternatives’ if you choose to own two premium forwards (a tactic that many are pursuing).

The premium midfielders are backed up by a plethora of mid-priced options with the most popular at the moment being: Richarlison and Felipe Anderson. However, there are noises from a lot of Richarlison owners that it may be worth shipping him short-term for someone else (Everton’s next two fixtures are against City and Spurs).

My personal view is that your third choice and fourth choice midfielders are good positions to take chances with as fixtures change and players come in and out of form. For example, I took a chance on Jose Izquierdo for four unsuccessful Gameweeks, but it didn’t hurt me too much.


This is the area where things have really started to change due to injuries and an ease in fixtures for some big teams.

A lot more managers now have significantly more money invested in their forwards which has had a knock-on effect elsewhere. You can’t have them all… You can’t have a premium goalkeeper, three premium defenders, Salah and Sterling / Hazard, in addition to Kane and Aubameyang.

The speed at which Aubameyang’s ownership and price continue to rise has really taken me by surprise. He carried a huge amount of expectation going into his last match against Huddersfield. He was brought in alongside four- and eight-point hits which involved removing other fit and available premium assets. It was a risky strategy that unfortunately didn’t pay off for those that took the plunge.


I think it’s too soon to say who’s right and who’s wrong – as those ‘in the know’ usually plan out their transfers and look further than the immediate Gameweek. What I do know is that I’m happy things are constantly changing right now and I’m enjoying the debate that comes along with it.

You can read more from Paul in his ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ series on his Facebook blog using this link.

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4 thoughts on “Paul Williams ‘Diary of an FPL Manager’ – Breaking the Template”

  1. Paul, great article. It’s probably the hottest topic in FPL right now, includibg the Salah or no Salah debate. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I also took him out for those 5 gameweeks and replaced him with Hazard. I was immediately rewarded with a hatrick by the Belgian. Last week I once again decided to take Salah out for another 5 gameweeks as Liverpools fixtures toughened up. Another hattrick occured, only this time it was Salah punishing me… oh the irony. But over 38 GW’s I guess these things even out for most of us.

    I honestly believe that the people who finish in the top 10 of FPL come the end of the season get 90-95% of the 50/50’s right all season. And that’s ultimately what it comes down to.

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback – I really appreciate it. All the best for this GW.

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