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Fantasy Premier League: Gerard Deulofeu, fantasy enigma

You never know in what direction Watford's Gerard Deulofeu is headed next. Getty Images

This past double matchweek was the epitome of Gerard Deulofeu. In one match, he scores an incredible brace, leading to his second-best point tally of the season (32.8 points) only to then largely disappear in the following game with just 6.6 points in the midweek contest. This "hot and cold" nature is certainly nothing new for the former Barcelona man. In fact, it's largely the reason he's at Watford in the first place.

After spells of inconsistency on loan at both Everton and Roma, Barcelona activated their buy-back clause in 2017 and returned the Spaniard to the club. After making 10 appearances -- and scoring just one goal in the process -- it quickly became clear that he was not good enough for the Spanish giants. He was then loaned out to Watford in January of 2018.

His initial loan to the English side was hindered due to a foot injury that saw him miss seven games in two months, but the Hornets saw enough glimpses of Deulofeu's talent to be convinced that they could indeed get the best out of him. Fast forward to nearly a year later and, while he does still have extreme highs and lows, those peaks are getting increasingly higher.

In 2018-19, the still just 25-year-old has posted a career-high in goals with nine -- one more than he'd scored in the previous three years combined. This has largely come with a positional shift, as Deulofeu has played 24 of his 27 matches as a forward this season after having predominantly played as a winger throughout his career. This change in usage has had all of the predicted results -- including far more goals, as mentioned, but also far less of almost all of our other scoring categories. In fact, he's currently in the top 30 of only two meaningful metrics in our game: goals and assists.

The odd thing about the number of goals scored by Deulofeu this season is that equal cases could be made for why he should actually have fewer goals as well as why he should probably have more. Deulofeu is currently over-performing his expected goals by just over two tallies, which would pretty directly imply that he's been a bit lucky with his finishing this season. However, the opposite seems to be the case when considering the Spaniard is posting his worst-ever shot accuracy percentage (36.7%).

While the lack of accuracy is obviously a negative on the surface, it also leaves a lot of room for improvement as any card-carrying member of the "regress to the mean" club would tell you. Considering his career shot accuracy sits at 48.5%, and that he's recorded a career-high in total shots this season (49), the Watford man should have had at least 23 shots on target at this point, rather than the sad 18 he's actually struck. Assuming Deulofeu had maintained the same finishing rate, that means he should have scored approximately 12 goals at this stage.

That goal tally falls more in line with what you would expect from a player that gets into the opposing penalty area as frequently as Duelofeu. This season, he is top 15 in touches in the box (per 90 minutes) alongside the likes of Raheem Sterling, Mohamed Salah and Eden Hazard. In fact, if you take the average of everyone in that top 15, you'd get 12 goals -- the same expected total from Deulofeu, had his shot accuracy fallen in line with his career average. Admittedly, the Watford man has recorded the fewest shots on target and the fourth-fewest goals among this group, but this nevertheless shows the kind of company Deulofeu is already keeping -- and just how high his ceiling could yet be.

Watford saw this talent potential and believed he could bring them success on the pitch -- and that certainly seems to have been the case this season. The Hornets won an impressive 83 percent of the matches in which Deulofeu has scored, and have yet to lose one in which the Spaniard has supplied an assist. As for his new position, Deulofeu has proven to be a great partner up front for whomever Watford has paired with him, despite the reduction in chances created.

His pace and spacing often opens things up for his fellow forwards which has meant that Troy Deeney and Andre Gray have inarguably played better with the Spaniard on the pitch. In fact, 13 of the 16 goals scored by the other Watford forwards this season have come when Deulofeu has started. Overall, 35 of the Hornets' 50 goals have happened with the Spaniard on the pitch and remember, he's missed eight matches this season. So yes, he's has been incredibly impactful for Watford this season, but he's been a little less reliable in fantasy.

His nine goals and five assists have made this his most productive fantasy season ever -- but they have tended to come in bunches. In fact, he's failed to do either of those things in two-thirds of his matches this season. He's also posted consecutive double-digit point fantasy outings just four times this season. This makes it difficult to select Deulofeu consistently, as you never truly know what you're going to get.

To hammer home that point, Deulofeu has actually scored five-or-fewer points more times than he's scored in double-digits this season. That said, he's also scored two of the highest-scoring weeks in the league in 2018-19, with tallies of 46.4 and 32.8 points. This range of outcomes definitely makes Deulofeu a gamble, but it's one that could well win you your week.