In the world of fantasy football, talent is idolized, and opportunity is often overlooked. After a rookie year in which he rushed for just a 3.7 YPC clip, David Montgomery isn’t going to top the breakout watchlist for too many football fans. The Bears‘ running back’s ADP is likely to portray this negative public perception, as fantasy owners will likely undervalue how involved Montgomery is going to be in the offense – he ranked inside the top-12 in touches among all NFL running backs last year. Sure, Montgomery didn’t wow anyone with elite talent in his rookie season in Chicago. Still, could the former 3rd-round pick out of Iowa State be a massive value with his current perception?
David Montgomery finds the endzone in the season finale pic.twitter.com/wyRDLr6oQb
— Matthias (@MatthiasWRNL) December 29, 2019
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Montgomery’s rookie-year numbers weren’t anything special, as his 3.7 YPC only ranked better than five players with at least 100 carries – Peyton Barber, Le’Veon Bell, DeAndre Washington, Kerryon Johnson, and Frank Gore; not exactly a murderer’s row of talent. However, the Bears’ offensive line, which ranked as the 4th-worst run-blocking unit per Football Outsiders didn’t do him any favors. The poor season Mitchell Trubisky put together (63.2% completion, 3,138 passing yards, 17:10 TD: INT) also hurt Montgomery’s production as he rushed against a stacked box on over 19% of his carries.
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I have Montgomery’s carry count seeing a slight uptick from 242 to 272 as the Bears make more of an organizational commitment to the run game, something Matt Nagy has spoken to want to accomplish. I also believe there’s a good chance Nick Foles earns the starting quarterback job over Mitchell Trubisky, who has underwhelmed in the NFL. Foles has experience running Nagy’s system and, unlike Trubisky, has proven his ability to stretch the field by airing out the football. Less stacked boxes mean more efficient production – I have Montgomery improving to 4.0 YPC this year. That, combined with an uptick in volume, makes him my RB19 in my season-long projections.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but
finished last season with the 12th Most Touches among Running backs.
• No competition for early downs ➕ed
• immobile Nick Foles means check downs for Montgomery & Cohen pic.twitter.com/JTxkV61pPD
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) May 14, 2020
ADP: 48.4, RB22
Auction Value: $14
I was slightly disappointed by Montgomery’s current ADP – it doesn’t seem fantasy owners have given up on him after an underwhelming rookie year. Once more casual leagues start drafting, his ADP could dip, but with his current 4th or 5th-round draft price, he’s still well worth a selection. In auction leagues, fantasy owners won’t be thrilled to spend up on a player with a poor perception so that he could be an even higher value in those leagues. I’m pretty comfortable with taking Montgomery as my RB2 in the 4th round, depending on who else is still on the board.
If you think about building your fantasy roster like putting together a delicious meal – seriously, nobody else does this? – players like David Montgomery are a generous helping of vegetables. Sure, your brussel sprouts may not always taste great on the way down, but they add some stability to the meal and are very nourishing. Players like Montgomery, Leonard Fournette, and Sony Michel are never exciting to draft in fantasy football. However, they provide a safe floor that not many others can. I have Montgomery down for 272 carries at the moment, which is the 8th-most among RBs in my projections. The Bears drafted Montgomery in 2018 to be an upgrade on Jordan Howard, who was coming off a 250-carry season. I can’t imagine Montgomery finishing with fewer than 250 carries in his sophomore year, which gives him a baseline as a low-end RB2 on volume alone.
Sony Michel and David Montgomery (both going outside of the top 25 at their position) could be the cheapest paths to 250+ carries this season.
It doesn’t have to be pretty. You don’t have to feel good about it. Sometimes, the sheer volume is all you need.
— Sam Wallace (@SWallace_FF) May 30, 2020
Montgomery’s a talented player, and his rookie numbers don’t tell the full story as he came into a tough situation. I won’t be shocked if Montgomery approaches 300 carries if the Chicago offense can click, and he should be heavily involved in the red-zone, so 1,200 yards and ten rushing touchdowns aren’t entirely out of the question. Tarik Cohen is the clear pass-catcher coming out of the backfield. Still, the Bears will likely utilize him as more of a slot receiver this year given their lack of depth at receiver behind Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller – we should see a lot of snaps with the two running backs on the field at the same time. Montgomery could get up to around 45 receptions, which, combined with his rushing production, would make him a low-end RB1 in PPR leagues.
Chicago Bears Offense
I expected the Bears to bring in some kind of competition for Montgomery this offseason after his disappointing rookie year, but they decided not to sign or draft an RB. Outside of Tarik Cohen, who has never had 100 carries in a season and is better-served as a change-of-pace back, the Bears have a bunch of unproven backs – Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, and Napoleon Maxwell don’t impose a severe threat. Without significant expected improvement from the offensive line, the real key to unlocking Montgomery’s fantasy upside comes with Nick Foles and the likely offensive improvement he would bring as the starter. It’s hard to imagine the Bears finishing as the 29th-ranked scoring offense with the veteran QB under center. Beyond Robinson and Miller at the receiver and an aging Jimmy Graham at tight end, there isn’t much in the way of proven pass-catchers on this roster. Montgomery has reportedly been working hard on developing his skill set in that regard, and this offense should allow him to boost his passing-game production.
Strength of Schedule
The Bears certainly have a schedule that sets up nicely for David Montgomery’s potential for fantasy production. Their division features two defenses – the Packers (25th) and Lions (27th) – who were far from elite run defenses as they were among the worst teams in fantasy points allowed to RBs. The Vikings (12th) fared much better, but they also saw a complete exodus of defensive talent from their roster, and it’s hard to project what their defense will look like this season. Unfortunately, the Bears do have to face all four teams in the NFC South this year, three of whom – the Buccaneers (2nd), Saints (6th), and Falcons (11th) – were among the best defenses in fantasy points allowed to RBs. The Panthers rounded out that division and were much worse, ranking 32nd in that regard. The rest of the Bears’ schedule is relatively soft – the AFC South is home to the Colts’ 9th-best run defense for fantasy, but also the Titans (20th), Texans (28th), and Jaguars (31st). Finally, Chicago will play the Giants (17th) and Rams (15th), who were middle-of-the-pack last year. It’s essential to keep a close eye on the Bears’ schedule for Montgomery’s production since their offensive line has struggled, and Nagy is prone to give up on the run game if it isn’t working.
Matt Nagy’s I-Form/Offset I-Form is working very well. The offensive line is getting some push, JP Holtz is killing it in his new role as a fullback, and David Montgomery is making people miss and finding running lanes.
— Dan DeYoung (@DanDeYoungFB) November 5, 2019
David Montgomery isn’t a sexy name for fantasy football leagues this year – brussel sprouts aren’t ever the part of the meal you’re going to look forward to (if they are, it’s time to make yourself some better meals). However, there’s plenty to like about Montgomery as a talented player who will have all the volume in the world to build on his rookie season. The Bears offense should improve with Nick Foles under center, and they will look to establish the run game earlier in contests this season as what they were doing last year just wasn’t working. I’ll be thrilled to land Montgomery anywhere after the 4th round, as I think he has a legitimate chance at a top-15 value at his position.