Last year, I mostly avoided D’Andre Swift in fantasy. I was afraid the Lions would stink – they did! – and grossly understated Swift’s role in the offense. Jamaal Williams was a factor, but not nearly to the extent as feared. And the Lions losing a bunch arguably helped Swift in fantasy because they were forced to throw so much.
That was bad process on my part.
Before getting injured in Week 12 (shoulder), Swift was on pace to be a borderline league-winner. He was averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game, which would have made him the RB4 one spot ahead of Leonard Fournette (18.3 FPG).
Swift’s was amazing largely because of his involvement in the pass game. His 6.7 targets per game pre-injury led all running backs while his 24.6 routes per game ranked fifth-most at the position.
As a result, Swift finished as a PPR RB2 or better (top-24) in 8-of-10 games. That type of consistency is only rivaled by Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler in our game.
The Lions didn’t get into scoring range much, but when they did, Swift was their preferred guy. He had 10 carries inside-the-10 yard line while Williams had just six in their games played together.
On average, Detroit reached the red-zone just 2.6 times per game last year (fourth-worst). That was down from 2020, too. Two years ago, Detroit averaged 3.3 red-zone drives per game (10th-worst).
I get it. Jared Goff leaves a lot to be desired, but if T.J. Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown continue to get better, Swift stays healthy, and Jameson Williams joins the fold, then the Lions have a chance to greatly improve in 2022. An easy schedule helps, too. By projected win totals, the Lions have the fifth-easiest schedule of opponents.
Swift’s relative lack of touchdown upside means he doesn’t carry the 22+ fantasy points per game ceiling of McCaffrey, Taylor, and Ekeler. That’s fine, though! You’re getting a discount on a first-round talent – Swift’s ADP is early-to-mid Rounds 2 mostly everywhere.
Swift should be much closer to the Dalvin Cook / Derrick Henry / Joe Mixon tier at the end of Round 1 than he is to the Leonard Fournette / Saquon Barkley tier in Round 2.