Photo by Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports
In case you didn't hear, D'Andre Swift had his breakout game last week. Fantasy managers who were patient certainly enjoyed the sight, even if they likely didn't have him in their lineups. D'Andre Swift, up until Week 6, was thoroughly disappointing. His highest snap percentage was 43%, his highest carry total was 5, and the reliance on Adrian Peterson in this Detroit offense was baffling. Last week, he posted 14 carries for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns and added 3 receptions. He looked every bit of a workhorse back, albeit in an Alvin Kamara role. I decided to take a look at the tape and see if there will be more where this came from or if Swift's breakout becomes an anomaly.
The first thing we need to remember is the opponent. The Lions faced off against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are 5th-worst in the league in rushing yards against, giving up 1.3 rushing touchdowns per game, and all-in on the #TankforTrevor movement. They had entered the game having given up fantasy performances of:
27 FPTS - Nyheim Hines
15 FPTS - Myles Gaskin
47 FPTS - Joe Mixon
They bottled up Derrick Henry and David Johnson. The point: they haven't had much success against elusive backs (depending on how you view David Johnson these days). D'Andre Swift definitely checks out as 'elusive.' He received Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara comps as he headed into the NFL Draft, and they aren't that far off, in my opinion.
The second thing we need to remember is to check the snap counts. Despite the massive performance, D'Andre Swift was only on the field for 38% of snaps. While he was definitely given touches, there aren't many fantasy-relevant players who are seeing the field less than 50% of the time. Kareem Hunt with Nick Chubb healthy is the only name that comes to mind; even the aforementioned Kamara sits near 70% of snaps.
So right off the bat, only considering conditions, this outlook is grim. Sometimes reality is grim.
When I went into this All-22 Analysis, I was mainly looking for signs of greatness independent from the Jaguars' awful defense. His first three carries came inside the 10-yard line, but ultimately didn't come until the 2nd quarter. While it's reassuring that he got 14 carries in just three quarters, it's also worrisome that they choose to give Adrian Peterson full drives of work.
This carry came in the following drive, though it was called back due to holding. Swift's great vision is on display here, as he recognizes the EDGE's leverage, bursts through the hole, and nearly breaks a tackle for a massive gain. Lucky there was a hold, though, or he would've gotten demolished in the backfield.
This carry stood out to me, because it also shows that D'Andre Swift is going to become a very, very good running back. This play is designed for him to follow the tight ends through the weak side B-gap. But Swift recognizes that his right tackle has already allowed the EDGE to penetrate. If Swift follows his blockers here, this play goes for no gain. Watch where he goes:
This is where he recognizes it.
This is the hole he chooses to burst through. Most fans would say "what the hell is he doing running straight at a linebacker?" And most fans would have some basis. But D'Andre Swift has already beat the blitzing corner to his right and would simply have to make one man miss to take this play to the house. He turns no gain into a five-yarder by refusing to follow his blocks. You don't always see improvisation/displays of vision out of rookies (see: Jonathan Taylor). This was impressive.
*insert heart eyes emoji*
Watch that video in full. While he starts off the play as Mr. Bursty, the most impressive part of this play is his willingness to truck the defender. That's not something that always popped up on his film at Georgia, but it certainly caught my eye here. He bounced back up and snagged another 5 yards on the following play.
This is from his 19-yard run in the 4th quarter. The arrow is where the play was supposed to take him.
Here's where you thought he was going to go (that's a big ass hole).
And here's what happens. And again, his willingness to take on a tackler and try to gain more yardage is what is going to get him on the field more (if Matt Patricia has a brain).
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire
D'Andre Swift showed us why fantasy managers were salivating over him during NFL Draft and fantasy draft seasons in Week 6. He looked every bit of an NFL workhorse, but that has never been in question. What has been in question is Matt Patricia's competence. Sure, maybe the low snap percentages keep D'Andre Swift fresh. He's always battled injuries and maybe he's attempting to keep him healthy. But after his Week 6 performance, I find it hard to believe that he won't see the field more.
Yes, this came against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But in the next six weeks, he only has one truly worrisome opponent: the Indianapolis Colts. His matchup against the Falcons this week should limit his rushing yard total, but there will be ample opportunity for some catch-and-runs.
What should we expect from Swift moving forward? I'd like to think mid-to-high RB2 performances are in store, with the occasional explosion like we saw in Week 6. There is no more buy-low window. Swift should make your fantasy team pretty damn happy moving forward.