D’Andre Swift was fresh off a monstrous 25.9 point outing in his first career NFL start a week ago. Averaging 18.5 touches over his last two games, Swift not only had the look of a must-start against the Carolina Panthers heading into this week, but was arguably the start of the week at the RB position.
That was before a concussion forced the Detroit Lions to rule out their standout rookie on Friday, leaving their backfield duties in the hands of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and the talented, yet vastly underutilized Kerryon Johnson.
Are either of these backs streamable in what appears to be a welcoming matchup against the Panthers? Let’s discuss.
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Lions RBs Fantasy Outlook vs. Panthers
The fact of the matter is, you likely wouldn’t have paid much attention to either of these players, even in Swift’s absence, had it not been for the dreamy matchup against Carolina.
The Panthers allow an average of 28.73 ppg to the position, fourth-most in the NFL. In fact, they allow the fourth-most rushing yards (1,088) and rushing touchdowns (10) to the position as well. Opponents’ leading rushers have either rushed for a minimum of 83 yards and/or scored at least one rushing TD against the Panthers in nine of Carolina’s 10 games this season.
Adrian Peterson Outlook
Furthermore, Carolina has allowed an NFL-high 64 red zone touches to the RB position this season. This is a statistic that should sound like music to the ears of Peterson owners, as he leads all Lions RBs with 19 rushing attempts inside the 20-yard line this season. Johnson, on the other hand, has received just six.
The 35-year-old has received double-digit rushing attempts in five games this season, averaging 10.06 ppg in those games. Problem is, he averaged just 3.4 ypc or fewer in all but one of those games. The good news, he’ll likely have a bit more running room come Sunday, as the Panthers’ run defense allows 4.88 yards per carry to RBs this year, the third-most in football.
Kerryon Johnson Outlook
Lions RBs coach Kyle Caskey claimed Peterson will “lead it off” in the backfield against Carolina, while Kerryon will fill Swift’s role “as much as possible,” per Chris Burke of The Athletic.
Thing is, Johnson filling the Swift role, namely as a pass-catcher, may be enough to earn him flex appeal. The third-year pro has played predominately on passing downs this season, albeit usually delegated to blocking duties. The pass-catching role has been instead manned by Swift, whose 31 receptions this year rank seventh amongst all NFL RBs.
Johnson has shown an ability to be used as a receiver out of the backfield in the past. He hauled in 32 receptions in 10 games as a rookie back in 2018. In Adrian Peterson’s previous 15 NFL seasons, he’s accomplished such a feat just three times, most recently in 2012. Safe to say, Johnson, who has now outsnapped Peterson in back-to-back weeks, will almost certainly serve as the team’s preferred option in the passing game.
The Panthers have allowed 66 receptions to RBs this season, tied for the most in the NFL. Their 12 targets in the red zone to the position are tied for third-highest.
Should You Start or Sit Peterson/Johnson in Week 11?
In standard scoring formats, Peterson is the clear top option here. Likely to see between 11 and 17ish carries, he has RB2 upside. Yet, he’s still best viewed as an RB3/FLEX play simply due to his lack of production of late. He’s likely no more than a volatile RB4/FLEX2 in PPR leagues.
Speaking of PPR leagues, Johnson would be the player I’d roll the dice on here. He’s a highly intriguing sleeper, rostered in just 14% of Yahoo leagues. If you’re in a pickle this week, Johnson’s likely usage in the passing game may be just enough to get you out of it. View Johnson as a fringe RB3/RB4 with high-end RB3 upside.