D’Andre Swift’s fantasy outlook and projection for 2021

As one of the NFL's next superstar running backs, should you draft D'Andre Swift with his fantasy outlook and ADP in 2021?

Although his rookie season got off to a slow start, Detroit Lions RB D’Andre Swift showed why many considered him the best back in the class. As he enters Year 2, Swift finds himself in a somewhat confusing backfield and on a team at the beginning of a rebuild. While expectations seem to have cooled off, what is Swift’s fantasy football outlook for 2021, and should you draft him at his current ADP?

D’Andre Swift’s fantasy outlook for 2021

When you watched Swift at the University of Georgia, you knew he would be special on an NFL field. Unfortunately, this was delayed a bit as former head coach Matt Patricia did everything in his power to keep the backfield a committee.

Although he played in 13 games, Swift didn’t really get going until after the Lions’ Week 5 bye week. From that point on, Swift averaged 11.9 touches (15.9 opportunities), 53.2 rushing yards, 25.9 receiving yards, and 0.89 touchdowns per game. 

Even when you include his three missed games, Swift was the RB9 during this stretch, averaging 16.5 points per game. In total, Swift recorded 114 carries, 521 rushing yards, and 7 rushing touchdowns. Additionally, he racked up 46 receptions on 57 targets for 357 yards and 2 more scores.

Will Swift be sucked back into a committee approach in 2021?

Certainly, after a season like this, the Lions can’t screw this up. Right? Well, they certainly seem to be trying.

Although Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson are off the roster, they signed Jamaal Williams to a two-year deal and drafted Jermar Jefferson. And if that wasn’t enough, they even went out and brought Todd Gurley in for a free-agent visit. Not to mention, Anthony Lynn has been vocal about his love for utilizing a committee approach. 

I have loved the idea of Swift in a Lynn-coached offense and how his skill set matches up. Since 2016, running backs in Lynn’s offense have averaged 28.3% of the team’s targets and never less than 24.1%. Just look at Austin Ekeler for evidence of how this can affect someone’s fantasy value. Swift was arguably the best pass catcher in last year’s class and should thrive in this offense. But if he does end up in a committee, how much will it even matter?

Swift can be a top-12 running back without question. The only concern is the external factors. If he receives a similar workload to Ekeler or even Alvin Kamara, something in the 10-12 carries and 5-7 targets range, Swift would be one of the most valuable players based on his draft capital. The Lions have done everything they can to quell these expectations, so you need to draft accordingly. When you are on the clock, don’t draft Swift as an RB1. You can hope for it, but don’t expect it. On the contrary, he is a safe RB2, with the skills to make even a shared workload count.

Swift’s fantasy projection

No team is undergoing more change than the Lions are in 2021. Sure, it’s not a flashy name like Aaron Rodgers to paste on the headline, but there are several unanswered questions. First, what is the new offense going to look like this season? While Dan Campbell will be biting off knee caps, the offense and how it operates will be OC Anthony Lynn’s responsibility. Lynn was previously the Los Angeles Chargers head coach. 

Lynn has shown the ability to change his offense to fit his personnel. If we look at the Lions, their strengths are on the offensive line and at running back. So long as the Lions are in games with opponents, I would expect to see an offense that works through the backfield. It should be a mix of a steady dose of rushes with D’Andre Swift and backfield targets to him and Jamaal Williams.

In turn, that will help set up play-action, which aligns with Jared Goff’s wheelhouse thus far in his NFL career. However, we do not know how much of Goff’s success was down to his skills or that of Sean McVay in his ear dissecting the defense from the sidelines. 

How will Lynn’s offense affect Swift?

Even if Swift ends up giving up some of his carries, he will have a good season so long as he can maintain his target share. And if the Lions are smart, this will happen. Joining Le’Veon Bell, Swift became only the second running back to play in 14 or fewer games and record 45 or more receptions since 1990. Therefore, you don’t go scheming that guy out of your offense, even if you are a new coaching staff.

In the end, even with his upside capped, I believe Swift will still have a solid fantasy season. In early projections, Swift could see around 200 rushes for 900-910 yards with 6 touchdowns. Furthermore, he could see approximately 60 receptions on 75 targets for 470 yards and 2 more scores.

D’Andre Swift’s fantasy ADP

According to Sleeper, Swift is currently the RB16 with an ADP of 27.9 in half PPR formats. On Fleaflicker, he is going as the RB19 with a 33 ADP. However, on NFC (a high-stakes fantasy platform), Swift is going marginally higher, as the RB15 with a 25.74 ADP.

Should you draft D’Andre Swift in 2021 for fantasy?

Swift is going in drafts where he should. While I would not consider him a value, he should return value at the minimum. And in the end, stacking incremental values with a few breakouts is how you win in fantasy football.

It all comes down to how you like to construct your rosters. While I would not want Swift as my RB1, he is a fantastic RB2 or even someone to pair with Travis Kelce, given the advantage he creates. Even though I have cooled off a bit on Swift as the offseason has waned, I still believe he is someone who should be drafted in the second round of drafts.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.


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