D’Andre Swift is the best thing to happen to the Detroit Lions since Calvin Johnson. Just like Johnson, Swift seems destined to slog through multiple successive losing seasons to begin his career. And also like Johnson, he seems unstoppable. Heading into Week 12’s Thanksgiving Day contest against the Bears, can fantasy football managers trust Swift as a locked-in RB1?
D’Andre Swift’s rapid rise through the fantasy ranks
I’ve been on the Swift train since the summer of 2020 when I drafted him in the sixth round of my 14-team league. At the time, Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson were ahead of him on Detroit’s depth chart. Many better-ranked RBs like J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram were available. But talent usually wins in the end, and I believed Swift had more talent at the RB position than anyone else I could have taken in the sixth.
Then, this summer, I urged fantasy managers to buy low at Swift’s RB16 average draft position (ADP), and to “bet on 55+ receptions.” In an offense desperate for playmakers, Swift was the clear centerpiece — a young, bell-cow-capable running back with limited mileage and impressive versatility.
He’s rewarded managers this season as the RB5 through Week 11. His 55 receptions and 67 targets lead all RBs, and his 420 receiving yards are second only to Cordarrelle Patterson.
He’s doing it all despite the fact the Lions have scored the fewest points in the NFC and have rarely led. In fact, only 6% of Swift’s touches have come while Detroit has been leading — because they pretty much never are.
Is Swift an automatic RB1 in Week 12?
“Automatic?” Nothing is automatic in fantasy. How dare I ask that question.
But let’s not judge too soon. When the Lions and Bears last met in Week 4, Chicago limited Swift to only 16 rushing yards on 8 carries. His 4-33 receiving line salvaged an otherwise disappointing outing. Can the Bears contain him again?
In seven of 10 games, Swift’s run for less than 4.0 yards per carry. Opposing coaches know if they can slow him down, that’s at least half the battle.
So managers should start Swift not because he’s a good bet to score, or because he’s reliable on the ground. Swift is startable because he’s the best Detroit pass-catching RB since Theo Riddick, who for three straight seasons (2015-2017) was a near-weekly RB2/3. He never exceeded 92 rushing attempts but still managed to give managers must-start numbers.
Swift is Riddick plus the carries, rushing yards, and the additional scoring opportunities. He will remain an RB1 as long as he keeps catching balls and earning 18+ touches per game. As bad as the Lions have been, it’s a good sign that their franchise RB seems unbenchable. Expect 100+ total yards and a top-14 finish today.