Photo by NFL

This is the fifth article of my “Dynasty Breakdowns” series where I go into the different factors affecting a player’s value and predict their future value. If you are interested in the complete collection of Dynasty Breakdowns, they are linked here and at the end of the article! This article is focused on running back, D’Andre Swift, and will conclude with my findings and recommendations for dynasty managers.

Like Jameson Williams, the center focus of my previous article, D’Andre Swift is a member of the Detroit Lions. The former Georgia Bulldog was selected with the third pick in the second round (35th overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft. Going only three selections after Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Swift was the second running back off the board. Drafted for his shiftiness and ability in the receiving game, D’Andre Swift is a very versatile player who is a dangerous weapon in the hands of capable play callers such as Ben Johnson, the Lions current offensive coordinator. In his three years in the NFL, Swift has finished in PPR scoring as the RB 18, RB 15, and RB 21. On a game-to-game basis, Swift may be one of the most efficient running backs in fantasy. However, he has faced significant challenges staying on the field and maintaining consistent performances, troubling dynasty owners. As Swift approaches his senior season with the Lions, dynasty shareholders find themselves questioning Swift’s future in Detroit and whether any team will commit long-term to the 24-year-old.

Graphs courtesy of KeepTradeCut

Swift found himself among dynasty’s most valuable running backs for a large part of his career, though constant reinjury and his regressing role in Detroit’s rushing offense have sent him in a downward spiral without yet cracking a top-12 season. Several of the earlier decreases in his value are a result of injuries; as of late, he has significantly fallen due to a smaller share of snaps in 2022 and the recent signing of David Montgomery. Let’s dive further into detail with these factors and others that will determine Swift’s value in the future.


Swift is yet to play anywhere close to a full season, incurring at least one relatively significant injury in each of his first three years. In 2020, his rookie year, Swift suffered a concussion in week 11 and missed three games before he was able to get back on the field. In his next season, injury once again held Swift from showcasing his talents, spraining an AC joint in week 12 against the Bears. Swift would miss the following four games, including fantasy quarterfinals and semifinals. Going into year three, Swift had displayed his abilities, yet had not proven he could make it through a full season. After a strong start, Swift yet again found himself on the injury report, reaggravating an ankle sprain from week one, as well as straining his shoulder. These, along with other minor injuries, have impaired Swift’s overall usage in Detroit’s offense.


One of Swift’s largest problems, especially developing as of recent, is his role in the Lions rushing attack. Drafted with high capital, Swift was intended to receive around 70% of the workload in the ground game in addition to his passing work. For reference, the graph below depicts Swift’s snap share in games he’s fully played in over the course of his career. This excludes Week 12, 2021, and Week Three, 2022, along with all of the games he did not play.

The two different breaks in the data show the start/finish of seasons. In 2020, his role was limited to minimal rushing and the majority of the backfield’s receiving in the beginning of the season, as Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson (yes he was a Lion for a year) received much of the ground work. Further into the season, Swift’s opportunities on the ground grew, leading to major increases in snap share and touches. Heading into year two, Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson had departed, and the Lions filled the gap in their backfield with power back Jamaal “Swag Daddy” Williams. Also joining The Pride was head coach Dan Campbell. Campbell and his coaching staff implemented a run-heavy scheme with Swift getting most of the touches and Jamaal being used on short-yardage downs and goal line plays. With a more favorable backfield and scheme, Swift was due for a breakout season. In the first 10 games of his sophomore year, he averaged an incredible 18.45 PPR fantasy points per game (FPPG). As mentioned earlier, he ran into further injury problems, and his final snap counts regressed after returning. Shortly succeeding the beginning of year three, Swift once again found himself on the injury report. Returning in Week Eight, Swift began to see heavily reduced snaps in part due to being banged up from the start. In his franchise record-breaking 17-touchdown season, Jamaal Williams emerged as the reliable, healthy, workhorse back. Approaching the last season of Swift’s rookie deal, Jamaal Williams is gone and the Lions have added a new veteran back in David Montgomery.

David Montgomery

While David Montgomery may not have quite lived up to his monstrous (no pun intended) comparisons, he has still had a very successful career up until this point. Joining D’Andre Swift in Detroit’s rushing attack, Montgomery is a little over a year-and-a-half older than his new teammate. Filling the void Jamaal Williams left, I find it most useful to compare how each of the two backs impact Swift’s opportunities. While Montgomery isn’t considered as much of a power back as Jamaal Williams, I still would expect the Lions to give him the majority of the goal line and short yardage work due to Swift’s role as an outside-runner and pass-catcher. David Montgomery is much more versatile and efficient than Jamaal Williams as well, which is outlined further in the next paragraph. This is dangerous toward Swift’s share of first and second down snaps, and we could see more of the same RB 1A / RB 1B snap distribution that hurt Swift’s opportunities last year. Having two very capable and versatile backs, I’m curious to see how Ben Johnson may play around with the playbook and potentially scheme a healthy dose of ‘split backs’ plays. With the addition of David Montgomery and potentially another young back in this year’s draft, it is becoming quite clear that Swift’s opportunity as the sole RB 1 in Detroit has come and gone.

Efficiency and Athleticism


Data Viz Courtesy of Tej Seth (@tejfbanalytics)

After a lot of negativity surrounding Swift’s injury problems and poorly-trending snap share, let’s talk about why he’s amazing! As can be seen in the graph above from a peer of mine, Jamaal Williams and David Montgomery have nowhere near the efficiency of D’Andre Swift. Rushing yards over expected (RYOE) accounts for the different situational aspects of rushing the football, such as field position, defensive alignment, etc. This helps us better compare rushers by removing outside factors that may skew data. Swift’s efficiency in the ground game is an admirable trait in the eyes of both coaches and fantasy/dynasty managers. Swift is also a much more athletic back than Montgomery. RAS is a metric that cumulatively measures pre-draft athleticism. I found that it correlates closely with running back success in a previous article of mine that can be found here.

RAS Metric and Graphic Courtesy of Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb)

When comparing the athleticism of Swift and Montgomery, it’s obvious Swift has the upper hand. With breakaway speed and great physical ability, Swift has a higher ceiling on his touches, translating to better fantasy production. There is no doubt Swift is an incredible athlete with great skill and ability, but with the negative factors discussed earlier, how will Lions general manager, Brad Holmes, choose to move forward?

Contract-Year Running Backs

My very first article discussed a major trend in running backs in the final year of their rookie deals, such as Tony Pollard and Saquon Barkley most recently. You can find the article here, but for our purposes I’ll get straight to the point. I concluded that, barring the team bringing in a young back to slowly take over the backfield, contract-year backs receive a major increase in touches. Swift now falls into this category, and therefore, I think the Lions will choose to inflate his opportunities in 2023. After signing David Montgomery, it is less likely Detroit will take a running back in this year’s draft with any pick higher than a fourth-rounder.

D’Andre Swift’s Future in Detroit

While I expect Swift to have a great season in 2023 if healthy, I don’t believe Brad Holmes will look to re-sign him at the end of the season. Although Swift is an extremely talented player, his injuries have been constant and detrimental towards maintaining consistency in the backfield. Today’s running back market is one of great surplus, a very unfavorable truth for young players looking to secure their financial futures past their rookie deals. At the end of the day, anyone can rush (especially behind Detroit’s stellar offensive line), and I expect Brad Holmes to capitalize on securing another star on a cheap rookie deal via a future draft.

While it is of course unknown what kind of a situation Swift will find himself in after this season, his injury struggles make it unlikely that he will ever have a backfield all to himself. This means we will probably see more of the same efficient production on limited snaps in the future.

Buy or Sell?

David Montgomery’s signing has depleted D’Andre Swift’s dynasty value to the point in which I think he’s being undervalued. Swift has shown incredible efficiency on very low snap counts, and I can’t imagine he gets a smaller share of snaps than that of last season. His injury problems  have been the only factor to hold him back from being a top-12 fantasy running back. Therefore, he has an incredibly high ceiling for the next season, especially with the trend we saw in contract-year running backs last season. As for rebuilders, I would stay away. This is Swift’s last year of getting a meaningful share of touches and I can’t see him getting a guaranteed spot as an RB 1 past this season, especially if injuries once again prevail.

For holders of Swift, don’t panic! His upside and projected increase in touches can lead to a hot start to the season that can spark his value. This would make him a very attractive asset for dynasty contenders. As for people looking to acquire Swift, I would hold off until after the draft just to see how the backfield may change. If we don’t see any significant cause for concern, check in with your league’s Swift owner and see what their current evaluation is at.

As for right now, a little over a month ahead of the draft, he’s going for around a late first in 1 QB / early second in SF (superflex). This is incredibly low for a player with top-10 upside and could be a bet worth placing for contenders.

Check out other Dynasty Breakdowns here and check me out on twitter @JackJReinhart