D’Andre Swift rushed for 521 yards and eight touchdowns on 114 carries (4.6 Y/A) along with 46 receptions, 357 yards, and two touchdowns in 13 games as a rookie, finishing as RB17 in half-PPR points per game. This is impressive considering that Swift only had 62 opportunities (targets & carries) in his seven games (8.86 per game). Veteran running backs Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson were replaced by Jamaal Williams, so Swift only has one back to compete with for touches instead of two. The Lions have a poor wide receiving core and Swift is a terrific pass-catching back, so we can safely project the dynamic back to be among the leaders in targets at his position. This gives him a nice combination of floor and upside for this season, since running back targets are one of the most valuable plays in fantasy football. Due to this receiving upside, Swift doesn’t need to dominate the workload in order to be a fantasy stud, similar to players like Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, and Austin Ekeler. He’ll also be running behind one of the best offensive lines in football.
The Lions could potentially struggle to score points given their weak options on the perimeter. The coaching staff also loves Jamaal Williams, who should play a similar role in this offense to the way he played in Green Bay. Having said that, Williams’ presence didn’t stop Aaron Jones from turning in consecutive seasons as RB4 in half-PPR points per game. It’s also worth noting that Swift missed time with a concussion last season, so there’s somewhat of history there, which is a bit of a red flag. The worst-case scenario for Swift is that Williams takes over the lead role with Swift acting primarily as a third-down back, but this is an outcome with a low probability considering Swift’s first-round draft capital.
2021 Bottom Line
It’s a good idea to prioritize running backs who get targets and Swift fits the bill. This is a second-year running back with first-round draft capital. He really started to take over this Lions’ backfield down the stretch. We can expect that to continue this season. Swift has a chance at 80 receptions given the limited talent on this Lions offense. Currently being drafted as RB15 (33.2 ADP) in Underdog leagues, Swift looks like an RB1 who is mispriced as an RB2. Take advantage of the buying opportunity presented by the presence of Williams.