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Join the D’Andre Swift bandwagon before it’s too late

The rookie running back is still stuck in a timeshare with two other players, but his upside is tantalizing.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

D’Andre Swift, the 35th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, had a fantastic performance on Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Of course, fantasy managers are like teenagers: we tend to fall in love at the first positive sign (sometimes, we don’t even need such a thing to be completely captivated). In this case, we are all hyped after Swift rushed 14 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions’ win over the Jags. He also added three receptions for seven additional yards.

The question however, is all this hype justified?

Swift was limited at the start of the season by a leg injury that likely cost him some snaps. But if last week’s events are any indication, he showed that he has the talent to be Detroit’s lead back from now on.

The only reason Swift isn’t higher on everybody’s rankings is because he is currently sharing the rock with steady veteran Adrian Peterson and 2018 second-rounder Kerryon Johnson. AP is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, which is good. But Swift’s 6.1 are even better.

Even if Swift is still in a timeshare with two other backs, there are reasons to be optimistic about his future. He played 29 snaps, while Peterson was present for 27 and Johnson was there in 17. Producing over 100 rushing yards in such a limited opportunity speaks volumes about his ability as a runner. It SHOULD lead to an increased role. “Should” as in we don’t know if it “will” given how little we can trust Matt Patrica to do the right thing. However, if you want Swift, you need to act now.

Swift’s performance against the Jags makes sense, considering his abilities as a runner. He has quickness, speed, explosiveness and knows how to read a defense, not to mention that he is very good at catching the ball, Week 1’s ugly drop notwithstanding.

Essentially, Swift can do it all, it is just a matter of time for Detroit to realize that he should be playing at least 50% of the backfield snaps. The pass-catching upside (for the season, he has 16 receptions, 131 yards and a score) is evident; he is also a good short-yardage option and he has home-run speed, as evidenced by the 54-yard gain he had on Sunday, where he was virtually untouched.

Overall, Swift was very impressive. Of his 116 rushing yards, 36 came after contact, and he broke three tackles. He is elusive, he runs with purpose and he offers the most burst out of Detroit’s backfield options.

For now, I am treating Swift as a backend RB2 option with considerable upside, but if he ever gets more touches, look out. This week, he gets a good matchup against a Falcons defense that isn’t particularly good at limiting running backs.

Swift could be one of those guys who can win you a fantasy league if things break right, so make sure he is rostered in your league.