D’Andre Swift’s 2021 campaign had a hint of ‘what could have been’ to it, but is he really a major boom-or-bust fantasy player for 2022?
Take away the game he was injured in on Thanksgiving Day, where he played just 10 snaps, and Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in essentially 12 games during the 2021 season.
Before he was sidelined by a shoulder injury, Swift set a career-high for rushing yards in back-to-back games (130 in Week 10, 136 in Week 11). Even at season’s end, with practically five missed games and reduced action when he returned for the final two, he was one of few backs in the NFL with over 150 carries (151) and 60 catches (62) in 2021.
D’Andre Swift makes fantasy boom or bust list for 2022
Ian Hartitz of Pro Football Focus (subscriber content) has created his early list of boom-or-bust fantasy players for 2022–what he affectionately calls “The Jameis Winston All-Star Team.”
In the running back category, there is Swift.
"Swift did a lot of good things in 2021. Again, this award is not meant as an insult.However, most of those good things occurred in one specific capacity: catching the football. And boy was Swift great at it. The second-year back caught 62 of 76 targets for 452 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games, breaking the third-most tackles after receptions of any running back in the league along the way. Swift is tied for eighth in yards per route run among 46 running backs with 50-plus targets over the past two seasons — the man is a problem as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.The problem is that Swift was objectively one of the league’s worst running backs in one-on-one situations on the ground. It’s truly tough to find a metric that paints him as anything other than a below-average ball carrier:PFF rushing grade: 59.7 (No. 50 among 50 running backs with 100-plus carries)Yards per carry: 4.1 (tied for No. 31)Yards after contact per carry: 2.4 (No. 46)Missed tackles forced per carry: 0.11 (No. 45)% of carries with a first down or touchdown: 18.5% (No. 43)"
Those rushing metrics are dreadful, and the Lions’ offensive line showed improvement (at least by overall PFF ranking) as the season went along despite never having their initially projected starting five together for a game.
Swift is a fantasy cheat code as a pass catcher, and that role isn’t going away. With what should be a very good offensive line hopefully together for a full season in 2022, the ups and downs on the ground should level off. But until he shows otherwise, the Lions’ No.1 back belongs on a list of boom-or-bust fantasy options across all positions.