D’Andre Swift could see a big increase in touches in Lions backfield next season, setting up breakout


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The NFL season may be over but it’s never too early to turn our eyes towards what 2021 may bring. One of the bigger storylines heading into any season is how some players heading into Year 2 of their careers may improve from their rookie campaigns. That topic now brings us to Detroit and the future prospects of Lions running back D’Andre Swift. The 2020 second-rounder enjoyed a strong first season with the Lions and is looking to be one of the latest players to take that sophomore leap. Given what his new coaches are saying about him, it seems like he’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that. 

As new head coach Dan Campbell molds his coaching staff for 2021, we’re already seeing a lot of confidence building around Swift. Duce Staley, Detroit’s new assistant head coach and running backs coach, sees Swift as having the potential to be a player that receives 25 touches per game. 

“A lot of people think you got to go have 20 carries as running back to be successful, and sometimes you do,” Staley said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “But touches, when you have a good back, an electrifying back, touches are definitely more important. You can get 18 carries and seven touches as far as receptions and you have 25 touches, which is what you want from your star back. When I look at D’Andre, I do think he’s a three-down back and like I said, he has some special traits I can’t wait to get my hands on, so I’m excited about that.”

Swift did show us a glimpse of what may be to come towards the end of the 2020 season when he started in Detroit’s final three games. There, he totaled 166 yards on 4.49 yards per carry and three touchdowns. He also caught 11 of his 13 targets for 56 yards. When you project that production over a 16 game regular season, Swift is looking at 885 yards on the ground and an additional 299 in the receiving game. Those projections, however, are based on Swift’s 16 touches per game average over those final three weeks. If he sees the increase in touches as Staley is describing, those numbers could be even higher, making him quite the fantasy sleeper next summer.  

Detroit’s new offensive coordinator in Anthony Lynn does have a strong history of featuring backs of similar skills. He noted that Swift will be a significant piece to the Lions passing attack, which makes one think of how Lynn used Austin Ekeler during his days as the head coach of the Chargers. With receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones both possibly leaving in free agency, the offense may quickly start to revolve around newly acquired quarterback Jared Goff and Swift as the Lions begin building this unit for 2021. 





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