1. RB D’Andre Swift
Entering his third season, Swift was the subject of plenty of preseason hype. If he could stay healthy, he was lined up to have a star turn. Then in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, he had a career-high 144 rushing yards.
But Swift emerged from the season opener with an ankle injury. He played in Week 2 and Week 3, answering the offseason challenge from running backs coach Duce Staley to play through minor injuries. He added a shoulder issue to his injury list in that Week 3 game, and missed the next three games with the bye week also in there.
Swift saw a fair amount of snaps when he returned in Week 8 (33 snaps; 55 percent snap share), which Dan Campbell expressed regret about. He played a total of 29 snaps over the next two games, much to his open chagrin one of those weeks, and his snap share exceeded 40 percent just twice over the rest of the season.
Some of Swift’s underachievement this season is rooted in how good Jamaal Williams was (over 1,000 yards, 17 rushing touchdowns). He showed flashes of his potential though (111 total yards in Week 14, 117 total yards in Week 17, 86 total yards with seven catches in Week 18), to create some question over why his usage was being so limited even with Williams’ success.
Next season is a big one for Swift, bigger than this year even. It’ll be the final year of his rookie contact, and an extension is not coming from the Lions this offseason. Expectations will naturally be lower, but Swift could still be right back at No. 1 on a list like this a year from now.
The overall results just did not come for Swift this year (less than 1,000 total yards), rooted in his two early injuries that were an ongoing thing. He couldn’t shake the injury prone label, and maybe he never will.