Will D’Andre Swift finish as a top-10 fantasy running back?

SideLion Report

D’Andre Swift has delivered thus far, but will he finish the season as a top-10 fantasy running back?

From Week 9-17 last year, among running backs who played more than one game, D’Andre Swift was RB10 on a per-game basis in full PPR fantasy scoring. Narrow to those who played more than three games in that stretch, and he was RB9 in the same scoring parameter. With a new coaching staff coming in for the Detroit Lions, hopes were high for Swift heading into 2021.

Through seven weeks, Swift has delivered. He is leading NFL running backs in receptions (42) and receiving yards (391), with a touchdown on the ground or via air in five of seven games. He’s RB2 in full PPR by total points, and RB6 in standard scoring.

Swift has seen an uptick in snap share in recent weeks, with 20 or more opportunities (carries and targets) in back-to-back games. In the wake of last Sunday’s game, when he had 144 total yards, Lions head coach Dan Campbell pointed to getting Swift the ball more.

“He’s a stud. We’ve got to give him the ball. We can’t get him the ball enough.”

Will D’Andre Swift finish the season as a top-10 fantasy RB?

The Lions have their bye in Week 9. Based on Yahoo! 0.5 PPR scoring entering Week 8, here’s how their remaining opponents (through Week 17) rank in fantasy points allowed to running backs.

Week 8-Philadelphia Eagles-3rd most
Week 10-Pittsburgh Steelers-7th fewest
Week 11-Cleveland Browns-6th fewest
Week 12-Chicago Bears-14th fewest
Week 13-Minnesota Vikings-14th most
Week 14-Denver Broncos-10th fewest
Week 15-Arizona Cardinals-3rd fewest
Week 16-Atlanta Falcons-9th most
Week 17-Seattle Seahawks-2nd Most

Those Week 16 and 17 matchups against the Falcons and Seahawks could win a lot of fantasy leagues. Expectations should be tempered against the Steelers and Browns, but both have been a little vulnerable to running backs as pass catchers. The toughest matchup of the bunch, the Cardinals in Week 15, is not well-timed for Swift’s fantasy managers. But with the Lions likely to be trailing and throwing plenty there, Swift has a path to production.

Swift is so-far outpacing other running backs as a pass catcher in some metrics that it feels unsustainable. But Week 7’s 63-yard touchdown off a screen to open the scoring against the Rams skews the YAC category–the bottom line on the graph below, courtesy of The Athletic’s Chris Burke.

A Lions’ wide receiver group that lacks anything close to an alpha assures Swift will get plenty of looks in the passing game. A bit of correction in deeper metrics over a growing sample can be overcome by consistent volume, and catches are higher value touches than carries are.

Swift is on a 17-game pace for 1,586 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns this season. He could drop-off some moving forward, and still finish the season as a top-10 fantasy running back in any scoring format. Swift is lined up to fully deliver a breakout season.

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