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When To Consider Taking Lions RB D’Andre Swift In Your 2021 Fantasy Football Drafts

When To Consider Taking Lions RB D’Andre Swift In Your 2021 Fantasy Football Drafts article feature image

David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: D’Andre Swift

Editor's note: The following analysis was written in June, but when coupled with the latest rankings and projections in our 2021 Fantasy Draft Kit, is still valuable research for your next draft.

D'Andre Swift Fantasy Rankings

Consensus rankings via Sean Koerner and Chris Raybon are based on half PPR scoring and as of early June.

Optimism for D'Andre Swift's sophomore campaign fizzled quickly after a series of offseason moves by the Lions.

Swift has the talent to produce as a top-tier running back, but he will face significant competition out of the backfield and have to adapt to a downgrade at quarterback.

Swift's 2020 Season

  • Games played: 13
  • Rushing: 114 attempts, 521 yards, eight touchdowns, two fumbles (both lost)
  • Receiving: 57 targets, 46 receptions, 357 yards, two touchdowns
  • Fantasy finishes: RB20 in PPR, RB21 in standard, RB20 in half PPR

Swift, 22, is a former high school All-American who played for the University of Georgia and overlapped with two-time Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb. He posted back-to-back 1,000-rushing yard seasons in 2018 and 2019 and earned first-team All-SEC honors in his junior season.

Highly lauded as one of the top running back prospects in the 2020 draft class, Swift was selected by the Lions No. 35 overall as the second RB taken off the board three spots behind Chiefs' Clyde Edwards-Helaire and six spots ahead of Colts' Jonathan Taylor. The landing spot in Detroit's anemic offensive system came as somewhat of a disappointment for fantasy managers, which was hurt even further by the late addition of veteran Adrian Peterson. The now-36-year-old was released by the Washington Football Team on September 4 and was signed by the Lions to a one-year deal on September 6.

The Lions kicked off the season a week later with a crowded running back depth chart consisting of Peterson, Swift, Kerryon Johnson and Jonathan Williams. Peterson saw the lion's share of the carries with 156 and led the Lions in rushing with 604 yard sand seven touchdowns over 16 games. Swift was next and recorded 114 attempts for 521 yards and eight touchdowns over 13 games, followed by Johnson, who saw 52 attempts for 181 yards and two touchdowns over 16 games.

Swift saw the most targets fo the group and reeled in 46 of 57 targets (81% catch rate) for 357 yards and two touchdowns. He combined for 160 touches, 878 all-purpose yards and ten touchdowns. He finished as RB20 in half PPR scoring behind fellow rookies James Robinson, Edwards-Helaire, Antonio Gibson and Taylor.
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Swift's 2021 Fantasy Outlook

Swift posted a decent rookie campaign in light of the competition for touches. Peterson saw a plurality of the team's total rushing attempts (42.5%), but was less efficient and was barely utilized in the passing game and finished as RB40 in half PPR. Swift saw 31.1% of the team's rushing attempts and averaged 4.6 yards per carry to Peterson's 3.9.

With Peterson out of the picture, the Lions inked Jamaal Williams during free agency to a two-year contract. Williams, 26, is a former fourth-round pick from BYU. He tallied 500 attempts for 1,985 yards and 10 touchdowns over 60 appearances for Green Bay.

Williams' signing hurts Swift's value, especially in PPR formats. The former Packer was utilized frequently in the passing game and reeled in 122 passes for 961 yards and eight touchdowns over four seasons. The Lions will likely want to incorporate Williams in a similar fashion heading into 2021.

To make matters worse for Swift, the team drafted running back Jermar Jefferson in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Jefferson, 21, had a modest career at Oregon State and appeared in six games in 2020. He tallied 133 attempts for 858 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and caught nine passes for 67 yards.

Swift will start the preseason ahead of both Williams and Jefferson, but the competition for touches negatively impacts his  projected workload and fantasy outlook. The Lions also took a significant downgrade at quarterback this offseason in trading away Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff, which could hurt an already lackluster offense.

How to Draft D'Andre Swift

Swift is undeniably talent and has a strong pedigree to produce as a top running back in the NFL, but his situation in Detroit is worrisome. A less effective quarterback in Goff, combined with a crowded backfield could bode for a regression instead of improvement in Year 2.

Instead of fringe RB1 production, managers should expect low-end RB2 numbers assuming the committee stays as is. He is currently being drafted as RB17, which feels high in light of the numerous factors working against him.

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