4. D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
Ever since Matt Patricia was hired by the Lions, he has wanted to run the ball. Injuries in the backfield during his first two seasons derailed those plans, but he’s been building the offensive line and tight ends in the meantime, while leaving the receivers alone.
He hired Darrell Bevell to be his offensive coordinator in 2019, bringing with him the experience of calling the offense in Seattle. The Seahawks were ranked in the top five in rushing, in four of the seven years that Bevell was the OC. The selection of Swift signals that Patricia has found his running back to fit his ideal system.
It’s true, Kerryon Johnson is the veteran starter currently, but he has played just 18 games in his first two seasons. He is not a big part of the passing offense and with him missing half the season last year, Bevell brought the Lions’ passing offense into the top 10. This after Matthew Stafford, like Johnson, missed half of the season. So the Lions need a back they can rely on and can do everything Patricia wants.
Swift is the latest Georgia running back to have big expectations (Nick Chubb, Todd Gurley, Sony Michel) on their shoulders. He has the ideal size, weight and skills to fit in any offense and blocking scheme. His skills translate to an NFL three-down back on an offense that is starving for a reliable backfield to anchor it. Supplanting Johnson seems like a formality in training camp but this season is full of unexpected turns; it seems like Swift should be given at least a split to start off.
As for dynasty players, Swift is a recommended grab depending on your taste for Lions skill players. Detroit running backs always come out of the gate strong but fizzle and flame out. If Patricia can be successful implementing his plans, Swift has a four-year window to look forward to.
Recommendation: Target as an RB3 in dynasty, redraft, PPR, STD, and in Rounds 6-8.