The Lions are in full-on rebuild mode after trading Matthew Stafford, though Jared Goff probably won't be bad enough for them to truly bottom out. He has little to work with in the passing game, but the good news is that there's plenty of room for T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift to break out.
Record: 5 - 11 (25)
PPG: 23.6 (20)
YPG: 350.2 (20)
Pass YPG: 256.5 (10)
Rush YPG: 93.7 (30)
PAPG: 36.4 (13)
RAPG: 22.9 (30)
2020 Fantasy finishes
QB: Matthew Stafford* QB15
RB: D'Andre Swift RB16, Adrian Peterson* RB39, Kerryon Johnson* RB64, Ty Johnson RB69
WR: Marvin Jones* WR18, Danny Amendola* WR71, Quintez Cephus WR102, Kenny Golladay* WR103
TE: T.J. Hockenson TE5
*No longer with team
Number to know: 27.5%
Under Anthony Lynn, the Chargers threw 27.5% of their targets to running backs over the past three seasons -- and it likely would have been even higher if not for Austin Ekeler's injury in 2020. That's a very high rate, and one key reason to be very intrigued by Swift's potential in this offense. He earned a big role in the passing game as a rookie despite a pretty high-profile and costly drop in Week 1, and was targeted at least four times in all but two games -- one of which he played just six snaps. He should be a big part of the passing game in Detroit -- especially given their lack of playmaking in the WR group -- and that's where you start when you want to talk about his breakout potential. It's not entirely out of the question Swift could get to 100 targets this season, and a safe expectation is still a very high number, like 80. There are questions about what his role in the running game will be, but it might not matter all that much if the role is there in passing.
Coaching staff changes
HC Dan Campbell, OC Anthony Lynn, DC Aaron Glenn
163 carries, 45 RB targets, 269 WR targets, 2 TE targets
Chris Towers' projections
|QB||Jared Goff||PA: 584, YD: 4208, TD: 27, INT: 12; RUSH -- ATT: 38, YD: 125, TD: 2|
|RB||D'Andre Swift||CAR: 201, YD: 904, TD: 6; TAR: 82, REC: 64, YD: 479, TD: 3|
|RB||Jamaal Williams||CAR: 179, YD: 767, TD: 4; TAR: 41, REC: 32, YD: 221, TD: 2|
|WR||Tyrell Williams||TAR: 88, REC: 52, YD: 672, TD: 5|
|WR||Quintez Cephus||TAR: 82, REC: 49, YD: 589, TD: 3|
|WR||Amon-Ra St. Brown||TAR: 62, REC: 49, YD: 589, TD: 3|
|WR||Breshad Perriman||TAR: 55, REC: 30, YD: 425, TD: 3|
|TE||T.J. Hockenson||TAR: 112, REC: 72, YD: 830, TD: 6|
Can D'Andre Swift overcome his surroundings?
Swift has the all-around skills to be a Fantasy superstar. He showed that in college and he showed it as a rookie, even in a pretty bad offense. However, it's possible we look back on the Lions ranking 20th in scoring in 2020 as the good old days. If Swift gets a ton of work in the passing game, he should be a borderline elite Fantasy option no matter what. If not, he could be a big disappointment in an offense that will surely struggle to move the ball and score. And, with Anthony Lynn talking about him as his "B" back, it's possible Williams has a bigger role than expected -- and if that's true near the goal-line, that could make Swift's margin for error even smaller.
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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
Williams has been a thorn in the side of Fantasy players for years as the smaller part of an RB platoon in Green Bay, but rather than just viewing him as an impediment to other player's greatness, consider the value he can bring to your team in his own right. Anthony Lynn wants to use multiple backs and has talked about Williams as his "A" back, the guy he leans on in obvious run situations. Given how much Lynn's offenses have used their running backs, there's room for Swift to be a breakout candidate and for Williams to be a viable low-end starter in his own right -- with big upside if something were to happen to Swift. As a bench or zero-RB target in the 10th round, Williams is a non-sexy pick who can really bring some value.
I've got Swift as both a breakout and bust candidate here, so I'll approach this in a pretty straightforward manner: I'll make the case for him here and the case against below. The case for him starts with the fact that he's simply a very talented back. And, while this may not be a great or even good offense (or even average), it's a better situation than you might think by simply looking at projected W/L record or points scored. That's because of how Anthony Lynn has run his offense and the fact that the Lions should actually have a pretty good offensive line. Swift may split touches in a bad offense, but we know not all touches are created equal: Receptions and touches near the goal line are vastly more valuable than all other RB touches. And, if a back is going to be in an offense that may struggle to produce many goal-line opportunities, you'll settle for a split goal-line role if they are going to see a ton of targets. That should be the case for Swift. I don't know if he'll reach Austin Ekeler's highs as a pass-catcher in Lynn's offense -- he had 92 catches for 993 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019 -- but if he's even 80% as productive, he'll be a strong No. 2 RB with legitimate top-five upside.
And the case against him is fairly straightforward, too: What if Lynn isn't just paying lip service to Williams? What if he actually views Williams as his lead back, or at least a co-lead. I'm operating under the assumption that it'll be more like a 60-40 split, but what if it's closer to 50-50? What if Williams actually gets more carries, with Swift operating as the Ekeler to his Melvin Gordon? What if the Lions bring in another running back -- they've confirmed their interest in Todd Gurley in recent weeks -- and that back gets, say, 20% of the work? Swift should still have a prominent role in the passing game, but what if it's more like 70 targets and, say, 160 carries? He'll be Fantasy relevant, but likely more like a low-end No. 2 or flex option. Remember, what we want as Fantasy players doesn't have to overlap with what coaches want.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.