Perhaps the most shocking move of the 2023 NFL Draft was when the Lions spent the 12th overall pick on Jahmyr Gibbs. Speculation about D’Andre Swift‘s future began immediately after the selection of Gibbs, as Detroit used the former Georgia Bulldog only sparingly last year and then drafted a player with a similar archetype.
The Lions wasted little time getting rid of Swift, shipping him to Philadelphia for a 2025 fourth-round pick on Saturday afternoon. Swift joins Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott in a revamped Eagles backfield. For Detroit, Gibbs and free agent signing David Montgomery will form one of the best running back duos in the league.
Let’s take a look at how our projections changed and what this trade means for fantasy.
Projection: 121.9 carries for 578.5 yards and 4.9 TDs. 31.1 catches on 41.7 targets for 239.5 yards and 1.4 TDs.
- A change of scenery could do wonders for Swift, who has yet to live up to the expectations levied upon him when he was drafted 35th overall in 2020. None of the other backs on the Eagles’ roster are insurmountable obstacles for a talented young player like Swift, plus Philadelphia will be one of the most efficient rushing offenses in the league. With that being said, Swift thrives primarily as a pass catcher out of the backfield — something Philadelphia didn’t use much last year (12.1% RB target share ranked last in the NFL).
- Despite the systemic lack of RB targets, the Eagles are as good of a landing spot as you could ask for Swift’s fantasy value. It’s a stable organization with an elite offensive line and a lack of proven talent at the RB position. If Swift is ever going to reach the ceiling truthers believe he has, this is the spot for it.
- We are projecting Swift to challenge Penny for the team lead in carries and immediately usurp Gainwell as the primary pass-catching back. There is a wide range of outcomes here — maybe he comes in and takes over RB1 duties immediately on one of the best offenses in the league, or maybe Penny/Gainwell have significant roles — but there is real upside here for the Georgia product.
OTHER EAGLES RUNNING BACKS
- Penny averages a ridiculous 5.7 yards per carry for his career — including back-to-back seasons above at least 6.1 yards per tote — but he has never stayed healthy enough to get more than 119 carries in a season. When he’s on the field, Penny might be the favorite to lead this backfield in carries, but betting on him to remain healthy all year is a dangerous game. At this point, fantasy players know what they’re getting in the former first-round pick: When he’s healthy, he’s one of the most efficient runners in the league and has the size necessary to punch in touchdowns in the red zone (two skills that could be amplified in the Eagles’ offense). However, he’s unlikely to stay healthy for 17 games and doesn’t contribute much as a receiver. The arrival of Swift muddies Penny’s outlook slightly in that he may cede a few more early-down carries, but drafting Penny is mostly the same bet as it was pre-trade.
- Gainwell is the Eagles RB most affected by the arrival of Swift. He played a major role in Philadelphia’s playoff run last season, but his primary role for most of the year was handling snaps in passing situations. We have Swift overtaking him for that role, but it’s no secret that the fantasy community has overestimated Swift’s role in the past, plus it’s notable that the Eagles trusted Gainwell in high-leverage spots in 2022. It’s possible Gainwell maintains a sizable role in this offense either as a receiver or near the goal line (he had six carries inside the 5-yard line last year), but we are projecting Swift as the primary pass-catching back in Philly at the moment.
- If he’s active on Sundays, Scott’s outlook doesn’t change much, not that he’s actually fantasy-relevant. He’ll get mop-up duty and score touchdowns against the Giants.
Projection: 158.2 carries for 646.5 yards and 4.5 TDs. 55.6 catches on 74.0 targets for 443.1 yards and 2.2 TDs.
- The Lions selected Gibbs way earlier than expected when running back wasn’t a position of need. That signals a big role for the Alabama product in Year 1, and he’s a perfect complement to David Montgomery given his pass-catching ability.
- Swift managed a 14.4% target share — and 70 targets on only 247 routes — despite playing just 41.7% of snaps, gutting through shoulder and ankle injuries, and being in the ill will of the coaching staff. Swift’s involvement as a receiver is really impressive considering how little he played and how much the coaches seemed to hate him. That bodes very well for Gibbs, who Detroit took at least 10 spots earlier than anyone expected. He should be one of their most-involved weapons in the passing game from Day 1, and he’ll likely have more carries than Swift had too simply because he’ll (probably) be in the good graces of the coaching staff.
- Gibbs may never get 15+ carries, even if Montgomery goes down, but the early-career Alvin Kamara comparison he gets so often is a good one in terms of what to expect usage-wise. Gibbs’ ceiling is leading the position in targets.
Projection: 207.9 carries for 853.2 yards and 5.8 TDs. 32.8 catches on 41.4 targets for 266.8 yards and 1.0 TDs.
- We didn’t knock Montgomery that much when the Lions drafted Gibbs because we viewed it as more of an indictment on Swift. Gibbs should have a bigger role than what we were projecting for Swift before the draft, but that difference could come at the expense of Craig Reynolds (who we previously had for non-negligible work). The Lions involved three backs during the second half of last year, but we think it’ll be the Gibbs and Montgomery Show in 2023, so the bigger workload for Gibbs vs. Swift mostly just meant we eliminated the ancillary backs.
- Montgomery will likely cede pass-catching downs to Gibbs, but he’s the favorite to lead Detroit in carries and boasts impressive contingent upside if something happens to Gibbs because he’s capable of playing on all three downs.