I had a small debate with another Fantasy Premier League manager this week about Jamie Vardy’s Shots on Target conversion rate. The other manager was arguing Vardy “has scored the amount of goals you would expect of a striker from his shots on target so far this season”.
I disagreed because I thought he had scored more goals than you would expect of striker from his Shots on Target so far this season. In his amazing 2013/14 season, Luis Suárez scored 31 goals, but he did it from 81 Shots On Target – a conversion rate of 38 per cent. Sergio Agüero, as I mentioned when I looked at his statistics earlier this month, has converted Shots On Target into Goals at a rate of 43 per cent this year and last year. Vardy, on the other hand, has converted them at 56 per cent so far this year.
The chart shows the Shots on Target to Goals trend line among forwards who have played at least 500 minutes this season. As you can see, Agüero and Graziano Pellè are on trend, while Harry Kane has not been converting as many of his Shots On Target into Goals as we might expect. Vardy is well above the trend line, meaning he is converting more of his Shots on Target into Goals than we might expect. Not many players will manage to sustain that conversion rate for a whole season.
Here is the Shots on Target to Goals trend line for Suárez’s amazing season in 2013/14. I have included Vardy’s 2015/16 dot here in black for comparison and some other noted players in grey, except Agüero whose dot remains blue to distinguish him from Rooney. Vardy has played 891 minutes in 2015/16 so I included all forwards who played at least 800 minutes in 2013/14 in this chart. Vardy’s 2015/16 numbers are clearly above the 2013/14 trend line. Daniel Sturridge’s dot shows that it is possible to sustain a run above the trend with a conversion rate of 52 per cent that season.
Here is Vardy’s 2015/16 black dot against the 2014/15 trend line for forwards who played at least 800 minutes. I’ve also picked out Vardy’s 2014/15 performance with a second black dot and highlighted a few other notable names with grey dots.
In this last chart, Vardy’s 2015/16 figures are again above the trend line and he has improved dramatically on his 2014/15 Shots On Target to Goals conversion rate, which was 22 per cent. The clear over-performer last year was Diego Costa, who converted 55 per cent of his Shots On Target into Goals.
Vardy is converting more of his Shots on Target into Goals than the trend. However, the data also suggests that one or two high-scoring players each season can sustain a high Shots On Target conversion rate throughout a season. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether Vardy can do so this year.
Finally, it should be noted that even if Vardy’s conversion rate were to drop a bit, that would not automatically make him a bad pick. Look at the top chart again and you’ll see the Leicester City striker has fired more Shots on Target than any other forward in the 2015/16 season. If Vardy from here on out only converts 40 per cent of Shots On Target (16 per cent less than his current rate this season), then he would score eight goals from 20 Shots on Target. Another striker converting at 40 per cent, but only managing 15 Shots on Target over the same period, would score six goals.
Vardy’s Shots On Target conversion rate may be high, but while he continues to get lots of his shots on target he looks a good option. Whether he continues to get as many good shooting opportunities when the fixture list strengthens is another matter.