Fantasy Premier League: How will Christian Pulisic fare with Chelsea?

How will the fantasy value of Christian Pulisic change now that he is set to join Chelsea? Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The January transfer window is open, and some big news was delivered on Wednesday, with the announcement that Christian Pulisic has signed with Chelsea.

The current Borussia Dortmund player, and star of the U.S. men's national team, will be moving from the Bundesliga to the Premier League this summer.

We've got a few months to speculate about Pulisic's potential at Chelsea, but let's take a quick look at what kind of impact he could make, from a fantasy perspective.

The past

Pulisic, despite turning only 20 years old in September, made his Bundesliga debut for Dortmund way back in the 2015-16 season, scoring two goals in nine appearances, four of them starts.

His playing time dramatically increased in 2016-17, when he made 29 appearances and 15 starts, and finished with three goals and six assists.

The 2017-18 season was his first as a regular starter -- Pulisic played in 32 of Dortmund's 34 Bundesliga games and started 27 of them. But his numbers didn't take a corresponding leap. He finished with just four goals and five assists, despite playing nearly 800 more minutes.

The present

Dortmund is off to a fantastic start this season. They finished in first place going into the Bundesliga's winter break, six points ahead of Bayern Munich, having lost just one game in the process. And they finished on top of their Champions League group as well, ahead of Atletico Madrid.

But Pulisic has played in only 11 of Dortmund's first 17 Bundesliga games and started only five of them. He has one goal and two assists.

Pulisic has played a bigger role in the Champions League, appearing in five of Dortmund's first six games, starting four of them. But he has only one goal to show for it.

Dortmund has a new manager this season, Lucien Favre, and he clearly fancies other players more right now. Four of Pulisic's five Bundesliga starts came in August and September. The only other league game he has started was against Dusseldorf on Dec. 18, which was Dortmund's lone defeat.

In that game, against a team that's currently 14th in the league and has conceded 33 goals in 17 games, Pulisic played the full 90 minutes, but he didn't take a single shot, nor did he have a single chance created. And the same can be said for his most recent Champions League start, against Monaco on Dec. 11.

Jadon Sancho, the England international formerly of Manchester City, has been Favre's preferred choice, despite being a year and a half younger than Pulisic. And he certainly has produced -- in 17 league appearances and 10 starts, Sancho already has six goals and seven assists.

So let's not get too carried away about Pulisic. But there must be a reason, or reasons, why Chelsea spent 64 million Euros on him. Check out this article by ESPN colleague and Bundesliga expert Raphael Honigstein from this past summer, for a good look at why Pulisic's numbers have been stagnant, but also why a big club like Chelsea would still pay big bucks for him.

The future

When he has started for Dortmund recently, Pulisic has been deployed on the right wing, as part of the "3" in a 4-2-3-1 system.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri uses a 4-3-3 system, meaning Pulisic will be competing for playing time as one of the wingers in the front three.

The big question is, where will Eden Hazard be? Will the Chelsea superstar ever play with Pulisic, or will he move to Real Madrid this summer, as has been widely speculated about?

Even if Hazard stays, there's a question about what position Hazard will primarily play. Traditionally, Hazard has been on the left wing, but lately Sarri has experimented with playing Hazard at center forward, as a "false nine." If that continues, that would leave two wing spots available instead of one, which could lead to more minutes for Pulisic from the start.

Regardless of Hazard's status, Pulisic will be trying to replace the likes of Willian and Pedro in the lineup, if both of them are still at Chelsea next season. They are 30 and 31 years old, respectively, so Pulisic is clearly a much younger reinforcement, with an eye on the long-term future.

Both of those players have put up solid numbers this season. Willian has only two goals and three assists but is second in the league in chances created with 48 and has averaged 11.5 fantasy points per game -- currently the sixth-best Tier 2 midfielder in ESPN's format. Pedro is second on the team with six goals despite making only 11 starts and is averaging 10.5 points per game.

Overall, Chelsea has looked rejuvenated under Sarri, and Hazard -- who, besides leading the league in chances created with 53, also has 10 goals and a league-best nine assists -- is currently the top player overall in ESPN's format, averaging 19.4 points per game.

My early prediction? Pulisic will have to wait to become a regular starter. But if and when he does start, he'll be a solid option at Tier 2 midfielder -- especially against weaker opponents and if he gets to play with Hazard.

And who knows? Maybe one day Pulisic will replace Hazard and blossom into a star himself.

When Hazard turned 20, he was playing for the French club Lille in Ligue 1 during the 2010-11 season and finished with seven goals and 10 assists in 35 appearances.

A year later, Hazard's numbers ballooned to 20 goals and 16 assists in the same number of appearances, and he moved on to Chelsea.

Pulisic has made the jump to the Premier League at a younger age. And his future will be fascinating to watch.