Prospecting the Prospects: Diogo Jota

Our “prospecting the prospects” series returns for 2018-19!
This is where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming period.

Background

Atletico Madrid loaned Wolves the young Portuguese Diogo Jota in July 2017, a move which was announced in January would be made permanent from July (thanks to Dawesy182 on Reddit for clarifying that).

Jota’s goalscoring exploits powered Wolves to the Championship title this season, with the man himself finishing the top scorer for his club:

The 21-year-old started his career in his homeland at Paços Ferreirascoring 14 in 41 games before being snapped up by Atleti in 2016. However, he was farmed out by the Madrid side almost immediately back to Portugal, where he registered 8 goals in 27 appearances on loan at FC Porto.

He subsequently moved to England ahead of the 2016/17 season (a result of the close relationship between Portuguese Super Agent Jorge Mendes and Wolves Chinese owners, Fosun) and has certainly made his mark.

So, how good is Jota, and how much of a prospect is he for us in FPL next season? We used his whoscored data to find out, basing the scoring on Jota being a midfielder in FPL next season (whoscored has him at AML for the majority of outings last year).

Prospecting the prospects

Appearances: 44 appearances (42 over 60 mins, 2 times sub on/off) = 86 points

Goals: 17(!) goals (5×17) = 85 points

Assists: 5 assist (5×3) = 15 points

Clean sheets: 21 = 21 points

Bonus: To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we’ve reviewed the games he would have delivered points in to come to a rough number. We’ve done this by researching all the games and allocating probable bonus depending on how well he did.

Goals: Jota scored the winning goal on 6 occasions, with his only brace of the season including a winner in the 2-1 victory over Forest on 16th Sept. On each occasion (the match reports bear out he had great games) he would have achieved all 3 bonus: 18 bonus in total. He scored goals that changed the outcome (e.g. equalisers) on 2 occasions, so let’s give him an extra 3 bonus from those games. One one occasion – versus Bolton on 25th November, Jota assisted the second (which was the winner) and also added the 5th goal in a 5-1 rout – he may have achieved 2 bonus for that outcome. In the remaining 8 matches, Jota added goals which didn’t change the outcome (e.g. the 3rd in a 4-0, or a consolation) – he’d perhaps have been in the mix for 1 bonus in most of them, so let’s say he’d have gotten into the points just under half of the time: another additional 3 bonus.

Assists: Aside from the Bolton game, Jota provided 4 further assists. However, none of these were for goals that affected the game. Nil points.

Total guesstimated bonus = 23 points

Disciplinary: 9 yellow cards = -9 points

Scores on the doors

221 points for last season, which would have put him in the top 4 FPL players, just ahead of Harry Kane. This is perhaps to be expected as a raw score as Wolves really did tear up the Championship.

Let’s moderate this score a bit: Jota played in 44 games last season, which translates his score to 5.02 points per game – meaning we’re looking at a score of 191 points over 38 matches or so in our imaginary Fantasy Championship game.

Jota played 3632 minutes last season (that’s a lot of minutes, by the way!) which translates into 40.35 games, or 5.47 points per 90.

Evaluation

One to Jota down on your watchlist

So – pretty encouraging, all in all. Jota looks to be the key goalscorer in a Wolves team set up to serve him: many of his goals appear to have come from cutting inside from his place on the left flank. He took a pretty astonishing 112 shots last season (averaging 2.7 shots per game), with a respectable 55% of those efforts being on target. A high proportion of those were in the area as well (72, or 68% of all shots taken), which gives him a conversion rate of 15% (17/112) or 27% of his shots on target (17/62 SoTs), which is all pretty encouraging. Furthermore, he completed 44 key passes last season – a rate of just over 1 per game.

Before we get carried away by these encouraging numbers, one cautionary tale worth bringing up first off is that of Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert. Doing the rundown of Jota certainly reminded me of the article we did last summer on the man we assumed would be the Seagulls’ talisman this season. The Frenchman’s preferred move was also inside from the right flank to score 15 goals (2 shy of Jota’s 17) and wrack up 8 assists (3 more than Jota) as he drove Brighton to automatic promotion. The former Leicester man ended up with 221 points by our estimation for 16/17, or 204 if commuted down to over 38 appearances. Knockaert’s 2.4 shots per game is also in the same ballpark as Jota’s 2.7.

However, we saw Pascal Gross rather than the Knockaert assume prominence for Brighton as, yet again for Knockaert, the step up to the Prem didn’t quite work out this season. We therefore are a bit more cautious than we otherwise would be with getting carried away with Jota. Further negative comparators such as Gaston Ramirez for Boro in seasons past also come to mind.

Our first true comparison is with Richarlison. The young Brazilian tyro initially took Watford – and FPL managers – by storm in the early days of 2017/18, with the new winger averaging a shot every 15 minutes or so early on.

Starting the season at 6.0, Richarlison ended up with a haul of 5 goals, 8 assists and 125 points after blazing brightly in the beginning: in Gameweek 17, he had an ownership of almost 30% after registering FPL points in 10 out of his first 17 matches. At that point, he was averaging 4.9 points per game – but few could have seen the dramatic fall off at the end of the season that caused much anguish in the community:

Richarlison’s stats bear similarities with his fellow Lusophone Jota; he took 95 shots last season (v Jota’s 112), 74 of which were in the box (78% – 10% more than the Wolves man). However, as all who owned him last season can attest, his accuracy left much to be desired, with just 32% of his shots being on target – a pitiful conversion rate of 5% (5/95) shows his wastefulness. He also mustered far fewer key passes than Jota (22 v 44) in 17/18.

An important caveat is that Richarlison came straight from a full season with Fluminese, meaning he must’ve been fatigued towards the end of the full Premier League season as well: he played in 55 straight games, which makes his lethargy more understandable. As part of this, he appeared in all of the Hornet’s matches this season, starting in 32 games in the Premier League. I wonder if we might see a slightly better Richarlison next year (if he stays at Watford), but equally I think he provides a good touchstone for Jota – especially in the early days and what might’ve been if he had been able to sustain that form.

The final “Rolls-Royce” comparator for Jota is Sadio Mane. He sprung to mind quickly as an option, and a shots per game of 2.4 for the Senegalese winger is in a similar ballpark for Jota. Mane came to the Premier League via Southampton for 2014/15, after scoring 13 goals and creating 13 assists for Red Bull Salzburg as they tore up the Austrian Bundeliga in 2013/14. In his inaugural season in the Premier League, Mane managed 11 goals and 4 assists for Saints, a total of 137 points (including the fastest hat trick in history in May 2015). His stats for that season are very similar to Jota’s, too – which might be interesting to bear in mind in terms of the impact a direct winger for a good team (which Wolves seem to be!) can have. Mane’s best ever season in FPL was actually for Southampton in 2015/16, when he scored 11 goals and collected 9 assists for 160 points. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Jota beats out Mane in terms of raw stats comparison for this season just gone, though obviously the context around league difficulty remains.

Another plus for Jota is how nailed he is: given the fact he played basically every match in a gruelling Championship schedule (44/46, with two games missed through injury), we can also hopefully count on him continuing to be in the lineup for Wolves, especially during the congested Christmas period.

One thing to keep an eye on, however, is whether he can realise bonus: both of our comparators are noted bonus-phobes, and though Jota’s conversion rate was decent in the Championship, as we’ve seen it won’t take many missed chances to see him shed bps if the system remains the same. He also seems to have a low ceiling in terms of output per game; the vast majority of his contributions were of the one goal a match variety, with a brace/goal and assist type performance only happening on isolated occasions.

Even with these things in mind, though, I think if Jota stays the main man and Wolves continue to play to his strengths, we may see a decent return from the Portuguese winger. I’d expect between 120-140 points, all things being equal, for Wolves’ probable talisman. This works out as good value given the probable 6.0 pricetag we’ll see, in line with price tag assignations of whom OFPL identified as “key men” at other promoted clubs (Knockaert, Ince, Ritchie) last season. That haul would put him around the same level as we saw from Zaha (136) and Lingard (128) in the year just gone.

Of course, much depends on who Wolves bring in, how they play and what else happens in the off season!

In conclusion, it could well be Jota takes FPL by storm, though the Knockaert example shows how being essential in the Championship doesn’t necessarily translate into Premier League success. However we look at it, though, he’s got to be in our thinking for Gameweek 1 as a “talisman” enabler to help us fit in other players. If Wolves get good initial fixtures, we may see even more managers willing to take the punt on the Portuguese winger from the outset.

Definitely on our watchlist.

Overall rating: 3.5 / 5 – A good prospect for FPL*

*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent

Disclaimer: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. Predicting how well a player will do is an inexact science, and there are many ways to do it. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do in FPL.


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