New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell made it clear at his introductory press conference back in January that he was an old-school type of guy, reference biting kneecaps and the like. From an offensive perspective, Campbell wants to be physical and run the ball all day if possible. Even though Detroit has a promising second-year back in D'Andre Swift and added former Packer Jamaal Williams in free agency, the team is reportedly on the verge of signing former Rams All-Pro Todd Gurley. The Motor City Kitties are +2000 long shots at William Hill Sportsbook to win the NFC North.
Adding Gurley will absolutely not affect the Lions' odds to win the North or their Over/Under win total of 5.0 – the second-lowest in the NFL behind Houston's 4.5. If the Lions were getting the Gurley of 2017 when he was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year, first-team All-Pro and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with the Rams, then, yes, those numbers would be affected. Or even the 2018 version of Gurley when he was first-team All-Pro again and also led the NFL in rushing touchdowns.
Alas, Gurley's career really started tailing off late in that 2018 season due to knee troubles – remember when he was barely a factor in the Rams' Super Bowl loss to New England? He rushed for just 857 yards in 2019 and was released. Last year with Atlanta, Gurley averaged a scant 3.5 yards per carry but did manage nine rushing scores. The Falcons made no attempt to re-sign him.
The market for Gurley has been mostly non-existent this offseason. In Detroit, he would be reunited with his former Rams quarterback Jared Goff. The Lions' new GM, Brad Holmes, also came from the Rams.
It is a bit puzzling, though, why the Lions feel they need a guy who has arthritic knees with Swift and Williams on board. Swift's Fantasy Football profile took a hit with the Williams signing and would take another one with Gurley.
Last year as a second-round rookie, Swift was stuck sharing carries early with the likes of Adrian Peterson – still a free agent, by the way – and Kerryon Johnson (since released), but the former Georgia star had double-digit carries in five of his final six games and caught at least three passes in all of those.
Overall, despite playing only 38 percent of the team's offensive snaps, Swift carried 114 times for 521 yards (4.6 per attempt) and eight touchdowns and added 46 receptions for 357 yards and two scores. Very solid numbers despite just 160 touches.
There is some concern that Swift will never be a true three-down back because he's a bit small at 5-foot-8, 210 pounds and did battle some injuries as a rookie and at Georgia. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn already is on record saying he's going to "ride the hot hand at running back" on game day. Lynn has called Williams "a classic 'A' back" while referring to Swift as a "speed-space back." That seems to hint Williams would be his featured back. Who knows where Gurley might fit?
SportsLine currently slots Swift as the No. 54 overall player for 2021 on its Top 150 Standard rankings. On the Top 150 PPR rankings, he's 28th. Detroit is a 7.5-point home underdog for Week 1 vs. San Francisco.
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