The offseason technically hasn’t started yet, and Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift already has a new head coach and quarterback. The 2020 second-round pick was one of the most exciting rookie running backs in the league, but now he has to learn a whole new system and develop chemistry with a brand new quarterback. Looking through a fantasy football lens, how will these changes affect D’Andre Swift in both redraft and dynasty formats?
How Dan Campbell, Jared Goff Affect D’Andre Swift Fantasy Football Outlook
Dan Campbell, Coaching Staff
The Detroit Lions hired Dan Campbell to be their new head coach, and all signs indicate that he will do anything and everything to build his team around D’Andre Swift and the rushing attack. While biting kneecaps stole the headlines, Campbell acknowledged many times that one of his top priorities was going to be getting the ball to Swift as much as possible.
Detroit has a good offensive line, which means that Swift should be pretty effective when on the ground. Swift is a talented back, but rushing production has a lot more to do with the offensive line than the actual runner. True fantasy football success comes from the passing game, and Campbell clearly wants Swift to be incorporated in the aerial attack.
You dynasty guys are getting waaaay too deep in evaluating RB’s based on talent. It’s a plug-and-play position – chase opportunity pic.twitter.com/ivRWpydc8L
— Dave Latham, Lifelong Bucs Fan (@DLPatsThoughts) January 21, 2021
Campbell comes from Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints – a team whose running backs annually end the year as some of the most valuable assets in fantasy football. Campbell should know how to get the most out of Swift’s receiving skill set, and he hired an offensive coordinator with a similar background. Anthony Lynn might not be the best coach in the world, but he knows how to get the ball to the running back. Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon both thrived with Lynn calling the shots, and that philosophy should carry over to Detroit.
Jared Goff and the Offense
Of course, all the off-field philosophy in the world won’t mean a thing if the quarterback doesn’t actually get the ball to Swift. Coaches coach and players play, after all, so Swift’s success will rely heavily on Goff’s acclimation to the offense. Last year, Goff (and John Wolford, for one game) logged just 71 targets to running backs, with no individual player eclipsing 33 targets. At first glance, one could assume that Goff simply doesn’t like throwing to running backs, which would put a massive cap on Swift’s ceiling.
However, a further dive suggests that Goff will target running backs if the running back is good in the receiving game. In 2018, Todd Gurley recorded 81 targets in just 14 games. From a talent perspective, Swift is more Todd Gurley than Malcolm Brown, so the targets should come in time. While he probably won’t be a 100-target guy, he should be a lock to get at least 60 or 70.
Touchdowns are king in fantasy football, and this is the biggest blow to Swift’s potential. Campbell wants to run the ball, which is a good thing for volume but a bad thing for actually scoring points. It’s basically impossible to win with a run-first offense in today’s NFL, so the Lions would need a new quarterback to overcome this outdated philosophy.
Unfortunately, Jared Goff is not a good quarterback. The passer barely managed to produce league-average numbers in a perfect offensive system, and Sean McVay paid for the privilege to move his contract somewhere else. Goff simply isn’t good enough to carry an underwhelming offense, and he might not have a good supporting cast, either. Both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are free agents, and there’s a decent chance that the rebuilding Lions allow both guys to reach the open market. If this happens, Detroit will have a bottom-five offense, which means scoring opportunities will be few and far between for Swift.
Bottom Line on D’Andre Swift Fantasy Football Outlook With Jared Goff, Dan Campbell
Ultimately, D’Andre Swift is still going to be a good player for fantasy football. The talent is obviously there, and head coach Dan Campbell clearly wants to build his offense around the rushing attack. Campbell’s six-year contract combined with the clear rebuilding mindset means that he should have at least two or three years at the helm, which is great news for Swift’s dynasty value. Barring injury, Swift will be the featured part of this offense for the foreseeable future.
However, Jared Goff and the underwhelming offense limits just how good this offense can be. Goff isn’t afraid to throw to running backs, but he’s not a checkdown specialist like peak Philip Rivers. Additionally, this offense is going to be bad, so Swift won’t have too many scoring opportunities. Ultimately, this all adds up to make Swift a fringe-RB1 in both redraft and dynasty leagues.
Embed from Getty Images