Is D'Andre Swift a Must-Start Fantasy Football RB?

The Detroit Lions spent a second-round pick on running back D'Andre Swift. Will he be a starter on fantasy football teams this fall?
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The Detroit Lions selected former Georgia star D’Andre Swift with the third pick of the second round (No. 35 overall). The organization is counting on him to return their running game to the glory days of when Barry Sanders owned the NFL. The Lions finished 21st in the NFL in rushing last season and have ranked outside the top half of the league in rushing since Sanders’ final season in 1998.

Swift was widely considered the best running back in the entire draft class and he will now be calling Motown his home. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry for his college career, which broke Todd Gurley’s school record. In three seasons, he rushed for 2,885 yards, averaged a school-record 6.56 yards per carry and added 73 receptions.

In 2019, Swift earned First-Team All-SEC honors with 1,218 rushing yards (6.2 average) and seven touchdowns on the ground and 24 receptions for 316 yards and one more score in the passing game. Georgia Bulldogs reporter Brooks Austin recently highlighted that Swift has garnered a lot of attention from some all-time greats at the position, such as Thurman Thomas and Maurice Jones-Drew.

The smooth-running Swift has all the qualities desired in an NFL back, with clear three-down ability and the potential to find the end zone from any point on the field. Labeled as the best all-around pass-catcher in the 2020 draft, he showed incredibly reliable hands with just three drops on 90 targets in three seasons.

Swift is the third running back the Lions have spent a second-round pick on in the last six years. The Lions traded up to take Kerryon Johnson in the second round of the 2018 draft and now fantasy owners will be facing a nightmare in drafts this summer trying to determine which back to invest in. Johnson, the former Auburn standout, has led the Lions in rushing each of the last two seasons while averaging 4.5 yards per carry for his career. However, he has missed 14 games over that span after suffering two knee injuries. The Lions will also be returning former Alabama star Bo Scarbrough and last year’s sixth-round pick, Ty Johnson.

Detroit had one of the better offenses in the NFL when Matthew Stafford was healthy last season. With star wideout Kenny Golladay on the outside, Swift instantly brings explosive talent to take the heat off of Stafford and open up throwing lanes down the field. Both backs are on the RB2/flex radar in PPR leagues, as they should each have large roles in the Detroit passing game. Johnson is highly productive when healthy, so it's unlikely that either back will dominate enough backfield carries to be ranked as an RB1. Johnson will need to stay healthy or he runs the risk of Swift stealing his job and emerging as the Lions’ RB1 at some point in 2020. 

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