Welcome to Boom or Bust, a weekly segment where I predict which NFC North players will flourish and which will flounder. In a week one matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, the young Detroit Lions roster is filled with boom or bust candidates. Below are my pick to boom, and more importantly, my pick to bust:
Boom: Aidan Hutchinson
Aidan Hutchinson was one of the most pro-ready prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, and his impact should be immediate. Although the Eagles have one of the most complete offensive line units in the league, Hutchinson has special talent which may not be expected from a rookie. As a well refined run defender, he will see numerous opportunities to stuff the run this week. Last season, the Eagles ranked second in the league in rush attempts and number one in rushing yards. The Eagles’ late season rushing success in 2021 should carry over into 2022, which will provide Hutchinson with a large share of running play reps. Hutchinson’s unique combination of power and athleticism was on display in the Lions’ preseason opener in which he was constantly disruptive. Earning the highest grade according to Pro Football Focus that week among rookie first round picks, Hutchinson dominated and proved he could be a meaningful contributor even as a rookie. The Eagles will have to rely on Hutchinson’s college film to gameplan for him, which will not account for his development during his first NFL offseason. He may surprise the Eagles with his diverse skill set and surpass his already high expectations.
Bust: D’Andre Swift
Fantasy football impact can be far different from real football impact, which could be highlighted by D’Andre Swift in Week 1. To begin with, Swift will not see the volume some are expecting. Last season, fellow running back Jamaal Williams had more carries than Swift, and their fairly similar productions signals that the two will share carries once again. This matchup will be even more challenging for the 5’9 Swift opposed to the more powerful Williams due to the massive bodies along the Eagles’ defensive line. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, and rookie Jordan Davis highlight one of the scariest fronts in all of football. The Eagles ranked top five in allowed yards per carry last season, which should only improve with the addition of a game-wrecker in Davis. Swift may struggle to run against this front, and opportunities could be limited if the more talented Eagles get out to an early lead. Luckily for Swift, he excels as a pass catcher and should see more volume through the air. However, his average receiving stat line of 5 receptions for 35 yards in 2021 has far less impact on the game than fantasy football may imply. All in all, Swift will be fantasy viable but will not see success against this Eagles defense.