This D’Andre Swift fantasy rookie article was written in two parts, a pre-draft profile written by Aaron Schill and a post-NFL Draft article written by Anthony Cervino.
D’Andre Swift Fantasy Forecast
While it was no surprise that only one running back was selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, some may be a little shocked that it was Clyde Edwards-Helaire and not Jonathan Taylor or D’Andre Swift taken 32nd overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. However, with Swift falling to the second round, the Detriot Lions were the team that landed Swift, who many had as their top incoming prospect rusher, with the 35th overall selection.
On the Lions, a team desperately hurting to get their ground game going, Swift has an opportunity to ball-out from the get-go. What about Kerryon Johnson? Please. If you’ve read my work or listened to me on the FF Faceoff, you’d already know that I am not a believer in Johnson. Not only has Johnson missed 14 of a possible 32 career games through his first two seasons as a pro, missing six games in his rookie 2018 campaign with a knee sprain and eight games in his sophomore season with the Lions with a meniscus tear suffered in Week 7, but the impending third-year rusher has a lengthy injury history dating back to his collegiate days as well including injuries to his shoulder twice, his hamstring and his ankle. However, injuries aren’t the only reason why I tend to fade Johnson. His production hasn’t quite been there. While in 2018, he finished as the sixth-best back in true yards per carry (5.0) and the 15th best back in yards per touch (5.7), he regressed in 2019, ending his injury-shortened season as the 57th back in true yards per carry (3.5) and as the 46th best back in yards per touch (4.3). While the onus will likely fall on Johnson and his injury history, he didn’t exactly have a ton of help upfront either. While the Lions finished 2019 as the 11th best offensive line according to Pro Football Focus, Johnson ended the campaign as the 59th best back in terms of run blocking efficiency (53.2).
Taking it all into consideration, it is not a stretch to believe that Swift could and should be the more-productive back in Detroit in 2020. With his versatile and explosive skillset, Swift possesses the traits to not only fit into any NFL offense similar to his Georgia predecessors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but he has the ability to be a three-down back at the next level as well, which could push Johnson into a minimized role as a primary receiver on passing downs or as the third-down back sooner rather than later. However, since he is an exceptional receiver in his own right — Georgia lined him up all over the formation including out wide — it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Swift ultimately made Johnson expendable as soon as at the trade deadline or as late as the 2021 offseason if the rookie, is in fact, the real deal. Depending on how the rest of the offseason develops, Swift’s year-one ceiling could fall as a middling RB2 in redraft formats. In other words, D’Andre Swift fantasy stock comes with some risk in 2020.
In Dynasty leagues, Swift’s landing spot in an on-paper timeshare should not deter you from targeting him early and often in your start-up and rookie drafts. For the aforementioned reasons listed above, the Lions’ backfield is Swift’s for the taking. Paired with an offensive coordinator in Darrell Bevell that wants to employ a run-first mentality, the OC may finally have the right personnel at the running back position to finally get the Detroit ground game trending in the right direction. Contrary to johnson, who entered the league with an injury history, Swift is the opposite. Outside of a late-season 2019 shoulder injury, Swift enters the NFL with a relatively clean slate.
Quick Link: Dynasty Rookie Rankings – Check out D’Andre Swift fantasy value in our 2020 rookie rankings
D’Andre Swift Pre-NFL Draft Preview
Georgia has been developing some very strong running backs over the past few years, and this year is no different. This year, it’s D’Andre Swift, who personally is my top running back in this talented 2020 rookie class. Swift is an extremely well-rounded running back and a potential three-down running back in the NFL. While Jonathan Taylor is generally the top running back in this class anywhere you look, I still think that Swift has the most upside for fantasy football purposes.
- 212 lbs.
- Age: 21
D’Andre Swift is the first Georgia player with multiple 75-yard touchdown runs since Herschel Walker in 1980.
NFL Combine Recap
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.48
- Bench Press: DNP
- Vertical Jump: 35.5″
- Broad Jump: 121″
- 3 Cone Drill: DNP
- 20 Yard Shuttle: DNP
Swift didn’t partake in many of the NFL Combine drills, but he did run the 40 Yard Dash, and he was the 6th fastest running back in this class. Swift didn’t participate in many of the drills, and I think that’s largely due to the shoulder injury that he suffered at the end of the 2019 college season, which he is still likely recovering from. March 18th is Georgia’s Pro Day, so we’ll see if Swift’s numbers will change or if he’ll participate in more drills.
Strengths & Weaknesses
When it comes to Swift, there’s really nothing that stands out t me as a ‘red flag’. He’s extremely well-rounded and has all the tools to be a three-down back in the NFL. His contact balance and lateral agility are fantastic, and his speed is great, but not elite. Swift is also very elusive and does a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield. I believe Swift is definitely the most versatile running back in this class and he’s shown that he can handle a full workload and be that workhorse running back that you want to see on the field all the time. Since we’re talking about strengths, just do a Google search for ‘D’Andre Swift dead leg’ and see what comes up, his dead leg is probably the best move he’s got.
The receiving game is where I really see the upside for Swift from a fantasy perspective. All three of his years at Georiga, he was productive in the passing game, despite playing behind several big names. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were both on the roster when Swift was a freshman, but he still was utilized enough that he totaled 681 yards on 81 attempts for 7.6 YPC, he also caught 17 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. In his sophomore season, Elijah Holyfield split carriers with him and they both finished with 1,000+ rushing yards, Swift scored 10 rushing TDs and Holyfield scored 7 TDs. Swift caught 32 passes for 297 and 3 receiving TDs. In 2019 when Swift got the backfield to himself, he ran for 1,218 rushing yards and 7 TDs, adding 24 catches for 216 yards and 1 TD. This production is really not bad at all, considering the Bulldogs were the 50th in FBS scoring in 2019.
The only areas that I find as somewhat of ‘weaknesses’ for Swift are his pass protection and his ball security. I don’t see either of these traits overly concerning at all, but they’re worth mentioning since I’m being picky. In 43 total games at Georgia, he fumbled 7 times. Again, this isn’t overly concerning, but it’s worth noting as you evaluate rookies.
Best Fit: NFL Scheme
The best-case scenario for Swift from a fantasy perspective will be to land in a West Coast offense. Anytime you have a running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield as Swift can, you really can see them excel in a pass-first offense. If a team like the Chiefs ended up grabbing Swift, he’ll likely be the top rookie running back in any format of fantasy football you’ll see. The Chiefs are obviously a dream scenario type of landing spot for a rookie running back, especially a pass-catching back like Swift. Regardless of where he lands, he’ll likely still be my top running back in this class.
Pre-NFL Draft Dynasty Thoughts
If I’m partaking in a dynasty rookie draft today, Swift is my first player off the board. I’d put him behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa in Superflex and 2QB leagues, but I’d consider taking him over Justin Herbert at 1.03 if I’m in need of a running back. Swift is a very safe prospect, and I believe he’s got the highest ceiling of any running back in this class. He doesn’t have a ton of miles on him, but everything on his tape shows that Swift is fully capable of being the workhorse back that could end up as a stud for fantasy football purposes.