The Detroit Lions are clearly building for the future and they have a promising piece to build with running back D’Andre Swift. After trading away long-time quarterback Matthew Stafford the offseason prior, the Lions ushered in a new era in 2021 with Jared Goff under center. With limited offensive talent, Detroit finished 3-13-1 and received the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The coming season is an opportunity for the franchise to build once again, and Swift figures to play an important role.
Health has been a limiting factor for Swift through his first two seasons in the league, but he has flashed his potential when used strategically. Detroit announced new hires to their coaching staff and if they make the running back position a focal point in their gameplan then Swift’s fantasy value could rise heading into 2022.
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
Rushing: Swift rushed for 617 yards on 151 carries and five touchdowns. He averaged 47.5 yards per game and 4.1 yards per attempt.
Receiving: Swift caught 62 passes on 78 targets for 452 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 34.8 yards per game and 4.8 receptions per game.
Fantasy: He ranked 15th among running backs in PPR scoring with 208.9 total points. In standard scoring Swift finished 23rd overall with 146.9 total points.
Lions offseason moves
Detroit notably added Aidan Hutchinson as a defensive cornerstone after calling his name with the second overall pick in the 2022 Draft. Elsewhere the Lions re-signed receiver Josh Reynolds to a two-year contract extension after picking him up off waivers last season. Detroit added further depth to the receiving corps by agreeing to a one-year deal with DJ Chark, giving Goff another option in the passing game.
2022 best-case scenario
Health has been the limiting factor for Swift as he’s missed eight games over his first two seasons with Detroit. If Swift can stay on the field, he’s a prime candidate to climb the ranks among fantasy running backs this season. The revamped coaching staff would also be wise to play through Swift and make him a focal point in the passing game. This would help alleviate pressure off Goff who benefited greatly from the play-action during his time with the Los Angeles Rams. Subsequently, this gives Swift more production and potential scoring opportunities especially in PPR formats.
2022 worst-case scenario
Another season of multiple missed games would inhibit Swift’s value in fantasy leagues. That, coupled with the possibility of Detroit’s coaching staff using him ineffectively would be the situation fantasy owners hope to avoid in the coming season. Despite the additions made through the offseason, the Lions are still a rebuilding team and could face growing pains throughout the season. If those growing pains carry over into the backfield then Swift could leave fantasy owners with much to be left desired.
I see Swift making a notable leap in 2022 fantasy, particularly in PPR scoring. The Lions may be a rebuilding team but that also means they will likely be playing from behind throughout the season, forcing Goff and company to move the ball through the air. The Lions would be wise to emulate the type of formula that worked well for Goff in Los Angeles and pair him with Swift in the play-action. If Swift can be the beneficiary of a few check-down passes then I like his chances of moving up the ranks to potentially a top-10 scoring running back, especially in PPR formats.