Update August 31: A Swift leg injury could cost him some touches at the start of the season and has made Johnson a likely Week 1 starter. Swift has returned to practice in a limited capacity, but is expected to be set back. His injury should lower fantasy ceiling for his rookie year and raise Johnson’s. Especially since Bo Scarbrough is also dealing with an injury.
Update August 24: Detroit is entering the 2020 season with a “running-back-by-committee approach,” according to Lions writer Tim Twentyman. Swift has impressed with his receiving skills out of the backfield and is expected to spell the oft-injured Johnson at times. You shouldn’t be too high on either back, as they will both be splitting the workload in a pass-heavy offense.
In this series we will look at the most important fantasy football position battles for each NFL team. Opportunity is king in fantasy, as you can’t produce fantasy statistics without getting on the field. So, the first step when looking for value plays is to project, correctly, which players will win training camp battles.
The Detroit Lions will get Marvin Jones and Matthew Stafford back this season, which will be a huge boost. They will also add D’Andre Swift, who the team took early in the second round, to compete with incumbent Kerryon Johnson for running back snaps. Swift was considered the best back in the draft by many pundits.
Johnson has shown promise, but injuries and trouble winning targets slowed him down in his first two seasons. Swift should easily command third-down and receiving duties while Johnson could remain the lead back early on. Swift has the ability to take over the lead role, but I expect coach Patricia would like to get both work, at least early on.
The Lions offensive line is a little scary for either running back. They’ll need to play above their heads to be good. The running game could have trouble, but Swift is such a good receiver that he should be able to put together good fantasy games in PPR leagues.
D’Andre Swift is the higher upside player and should end up winning the majority of touches for the season, but could split work early in the season.