David Montgomery's Volume Concerns Make Him a Scary Investment in Fantasy Football
Going into last year, David Montgomery was viewed as a possible breakout player.
It didn't happen for him.
But the Bears are leaning on their sophomore back to increase his production after a rookie year of 267 total touches. There's hope Montgomery will take a leap in what should be a better Chicago offense with Nick Foles under center after Mitchell Trubisky imploded in 2019.
How should you handle Montgomery in season-long fantasy football this year?
Montgomery's Rookie Year
Going into last season, Montgomery was being drafted as high as the third round. While he didn't live up to that draft cost, he is still a key cog in the Bears' offense and is cheaper this time around, with his PPR average draft position sitting at 55th overall (RB23), per Fantasy Football Calculator.
Montgomery finished 2019 as the RB24 with 170.3 fantasy points (10.7 per game) in PPR leagues, and he was the RB22 with 145.4 points (9.1 per game) in standard formats. That's not a terrible season by any means, but it's disappointing given where he was drafted last year. While he saw a good amount of carries a season ago, Montgomery failed to offer much of a ceiling in a poor Chicago offense, and the weekly floor was ugly, too, because he didn't do a lot in the passing game (more than three targets in only three of 16 games).
In all, Montgomery had 16-plus PPR points in just four of 16 outings while posting single-digit points nine times.
He finished with 1,074 total yards and seven total touchdowns. Montgomery rushed for 889 yards and six scores on the 13th-most carries (242). He received just 35 targets on the season (2.2 per game), catching 25 of them for 185 yards and a score.
Teammate Tarik Cohen was targeted the third-most times among all running backs (104), trailing only Austin Ekeler (108) and Christian McCaffrey (142). Cohen's touches took away much of Montgomery's weekly floor -- as well as dinging Montgomery's ceiling -- as the rookie was prone to being game scripted out of the Bears' plans when they got behind.
Where Should You Draft Him in 2020?
As we mentioned above, Montgomery is currently the RB23 in PPR leagues.
That puts him in the range of guys like Mark Ingram (RB20), Marlon Mack (RB21), Kenyan Drake (RB22) and Phillip Lindsay (RB24). All of these players have volume concerns heading into 2020, but you can make the argument Montgomery might see more carries than all of these backs -- with the exception of Drake, who should see plenty of touches this year.
It's worth noting the success Montgomery had against the NFC North as a rookie. Versus division opponents in 2019, Montgomery put up solid numbers in games against the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, though the sample is obviously small.
|Rushing Yards||135 (67.5 ypg)||57 (28.5)||166 (83)|
|Average Standard Fantasy Points||10.35||4.7||12|
His third- and fourth-highest PPR outputs came versus the Lions (16.7) and Vikings (17.3), with the Vikings game in Week 17. Montgomery recorded 40.2% of his rushing yards in Chicago's six division games and 28.5% of his touchdowns came against the NFC North. That's good news since he'll obviously see plenty of these defenses in 2020.
At the end of the day, as long as Cohen is around, Montgomery is going to have a capped ceiling and a bottomless floor on a weekly basis.
There's a chance Chicago's offense is better in 2020 with Foles at the controls, and if that's the case, it would be a big boost to Montgomery's value. As the Bears' goal-line back and lead runner, Montgomery should have more touchdowns in a better offense, and more positive game scripts would likely mean more carries.
But it's not a lock Foles elevates the offense -- or even that he starts over Trubisky all season.
Montgomery may have been a victim of a bad offense as a rookie as his 75 evaded tackles (13th) and 28.1% juke rate (13th), per PlayerProfiler, aren't bad clips. He might actually be a good running back. But Chicago's offense could very well struggle again in 2020, and Montgomery will have volume concerns as long as Cohen is around.
On the bright side, with Cohen in the final year of his rookie deal, Montgomery's outlook could be enhanced in 2021, giving him added appeal in dynasty leagues.
In redraft, however, Montgomery is priced fairly as a back-end RB2 (top-24). That's the range where you're going to have to be willing to overlook some things with any running back, and Montgomery is no different.
Montgomery isn't a guy to reach for this draft season; let him fall to you.