Loading scores...
FPL Draft

Jese and the value of context

by Neal Thurman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Context is everything.  If you've watched enough soccer, I'm sure you've had a friend suggest that they might be able to score 15 goals if they had Messi, Suarez, and Neymar as teammates.  Such would be the quality of the opportunities available and the defensive attention paid to those exceptional attackers that it would be easy to feast as the fourth wheel.  Hyperbole? Sure.  But the point is a valid one.  It is almost impossible to judge the value of a goal-scorer without judging the quality around them as well.  


In a few isolated cases of the Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez variety, it would be reasonable to expect that they could come into any side and score goals.  They're that good.  For the merely excellent forwards out there, they cannot be judged by mere goals scored alone.  Without context of the number and quality of chances afforded them, it's hard to say that a particular forward in empirically good or bad.  This is incredibly important for fantasy managers as Jese makes his move from PSG to Stoke City for the upcoming season.  Context matters.


Jese was once a really big name graduating from the Real Madrid youth set-up and producing as a rising substitute in limited opportunities for a club at the highest level.  Depending on how you look at it, he's either the next Bojan or the next Chicharito.  Both share rises at massive clubs and early success at incredibly young ages.  Chicharito continued to try to break in at various big clubs to limited success before settling as a quality starter a little farther down the table first in Germany and now at West Ham.  Bojan couldn't shake the injury bug but his potential continued to attract big name clubs until he eventually landed at the Britannia in an attempt to revive a once-promising career. 


Both of these cases are instructive when looking at Jese.  His name is still a pretty big one but he's never been either particularly healthy or a proven prolific scorer.  What makes his current situation unlikely to change the latter is the context he arrives in.  Stoke City's center forwards just didn't get many opportunities last season if you judge by the number of shot they were credited with.  Looking at the combined efforts of Peter Crouch, Mame Biram Diouf, Wilfried Bony, Jon Walters, and Saido Berahino the group only managed 101 shots, 41 of which were on target, with 13 finding the back of the net.  Compare that to Romelu Lukaku alone (110/55/25) let alone Everton's center forwards as a group (144/69/28) and you'll see that the center forward position was significantly less productive at Stoke City than at the gold standard for mid-table clubs last season, Everton.


We can turn our attention to the summer transfer window to see what has changed that might improve or depress Jese's chances even assuming he can stay healthy and refind the form that made him a star on the rise.  The biggest change has been the departure of Marko Arnautovic who was Stoke City's most prolific and dynamic attacker over the past two seasons.  Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting has come in to replace him but expecting the new arrival to equal Arnautovic's 2016-17 output let alone his 2015-16 efforts seems like a stretch given his history at Schalke and the fact that, at 27-years-old, Choupo-Moting probably is who he's is rather than being a player on the rise.  Maybe Xherdan Shaqiri's health improves and he and Choupo-Moting can compensate for the loss of Arnautovic but that still leaves us back where we started with a club that doesn't create many chances.


Even if we stipulate that Jese will be a more efficient finisher of the chances provided and he gets a higher percentage of those chances than any of the hodge-podge of forwards that scored for the Potters last season, the outlook still isn't particularly rosey.  If there are approximately 100 shots that will be taken and Jese can claim a very reasonable 60% of those (Lukaku only got 76% of Everton's forward SOTs and he's Romelu Lukaku so 60% seems like a more than fair number for Jese at Stoke City) then you're looking at 60 shots.  Turning half of those shots into Shots on Target would be a reasonable expectation for a starting center forward in the Premier League which would see Jese put 30 shots on target for this season.  Now, if you believe that Jese can convert at a Lukaku-like rate of 45% from shots on target to goals (25/55 from last season) then we're looking at a respectable 13 goals for the season.  More likely, we're looking at something on the order of a 35% conversion rate which would put him right around 10 goals.  


I feel like I've painted about as optimistic a picture as I could paint about both the context at Stoke City (Shaqiri's health is a huge question and there's no reason for us to think it will hold based on what we've seen over his career).  I've also assumed a healthy season for Jese and assumed that he would convert chances on par with a forward who just moved for the GDP of a small country.  Those are a lot of optimistic assumptions and it still led us to an outcome of somewhere between 10 and 13 goals.  Discounting for the injury histories of both Shaqiri and Jese himself, I'd have to put the realistic expectation at somewhere between 6 and 10 goals with 8 the target I'd create if someone forced me into an over/under number.  


All this is a very long way of saying, don't get too carried away on the waiver wire this week dumping a quality player for Jese.  If you lost someone to injury or have a forward you don't think looks as promising as the scenarios I've described above then, by all means, take the chance and hope he can finally bring it all together.  Until Stoke City make some moves that lead you to believe that they might actually create more chances for whomever plays forward for them though, I wouldn't expect the addition of Jese to make much of an impact on your draft league results. 

Neal Thurman

Neal Thurman manages the NBC Sports Edge's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.