2020 Recap: 114 rush, 521 yds (4.6 YPC) 8 touchdowns; 46 receptions, 357 yds, 2 touchdowns.
Barry Sanders, #20 in Honolulu Blue. That’s a name and number that reminds many Detroit Lions fans of the glory days in the 1990s. He is arguably the greatest running back of all time and he is certainly the greatest elusive runner of all time. No one could make a 3 yard gain more exciting.
Since Sanders’s final season in 1998 however, no Lions running back has made a pro bowl. Heck, since then, only two running backs have just managed to crack 1,000 yards rushing. James Stewart in 2000 and 2002, and Reggie Bush (barely) in 2013. That’s it? Whether it was injuries or ineffectiveness, a Detroit Lions backfield has been a wasteland for fantasy production for almost 20 years. All of that is going to change in 2021.
Enter D’Andre Swift, the second-round, the 35th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. I thought that Swift was the best Running back in the 2020 NFL Draft and I was certain that he would go in the first round and be the first back taken (I was wrong – Clyde Edwards-Helaire went at #32 to the Chiefs at the end of the first and Swift went three picks later in the 2). I am in LOVE with Swift’s potential this year. He scored 10 total touchdowns as a rookie, despite being underused by then Head Coach Matt Patricia, a Bill Belichick disciple who has a different running back for every day of the week.
Not only that but Swift snagged 46 passes so the Lions see his value as a receiver – he caught 3 passes in every single game but one. That kind of production in a part-time role will only lead to more production on a full-time basis.
There are even more reasons to love him as a pick this year. First the obvious; Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson are both gone. Johnson was injury prone and Peterson had lost three or four steps and is not the same player he was. Now both are either on the street or in Philadelphia. Swift was the most talented back on the team but was subject to “growing pains” as he adjusted to the NFL and failed to run away with the job (pun intended).
Second, the coaching change will make a big difference. New coach Dan Campbell served as the Saints assistant head coach as well as the Tight Ends coach in New Orleans for the last 5 years. So he knows what it looks like to have a versatile, productive running back on your football team. Alvin Kamara, the running back of whom I speak, has been a pro bowler all 4 years that he has been in the league. He has caught at least 81 passes in each of his 4 NFL seasons.
Dan Campbell must surely know what kind of talent he has in Swift from his days in New Orleans along with Swifts’ game tape during his college days when he ran wild at Georgia and would be wise to get the ball in Swift’s hands at every opportunity. New Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, who has experience both as a player and a coach of the position will also be in sync with Campbell’s new, violent vision for how the Lions want to play football. You know… the whole biting knee caps and all that. Not only that but Kenny Golladay, the Lions leader in pretty much every receiving category has also departed for much brighter lights in New York City, so Swift will have every opportunity to steal the show through the air as well.
Plus, D’Andre Swift is a product of Philadelphia so I will always give a chance to show those kinds of players love.
I played in over 12 leagues last year and I had Swift in nearly every league that I was involved in. I will be doing more of the same this year. As I said before, I am ALL IN on him this year. Barring injury, he won’t disappoint you. Draft him with confidence as early as round 3, and maybe even earlier for those of you in PPR leagues, and watch the money pile up as the season progresses.
Rad’s 2021 Projection:
Draft spot: Mid 2nd to Early 3rd
Between 1400-1500 rush yards (12-15 touchdowns);
70-80 receptions, 600-700 yards (5 Touchdowns)