David Montgomery is a polarizing player for fantasy owners. By all accounts, from a production standpoint, Montgomery had a relatively successful inaugural season. His 1,074 yards from scrimmage and 7 TDs were similar to Le’Veon Bell’s rookie season in which he accounted for 1259 scrimmage yards and 8 TDs. The primary difference was that Bell caught 20 more passes as a rookie. But Monty (71.4%) had a higher catch percentage than Bell (68.2%). Montgomery gathered 889 rushing yards on 242 carries for a 3.7-yard average, while Bell in his rookie season mustered 860 rushing yards on 244 carries for a 3.5-yard average. These statistics show that David Montgomery’s 2020 dynasty profile is trending in the right direction.
For all the criticism Monty has taken this offseason, we should explore the full context of his rookie campaign. His first-year statistics have garnered him a reputation as somewhat of a plodder. However, Montgomery suffered from poor offensive line play and a lack of cohesiveness within an O-Line group that was constantly in flux due to injuries.
The blocking from the tight end position was especially atrocious throughout the season. which hurt on split zone plays (a good portion of what Chicago’s offense runs). Montgomery effectively earned a 3-down RB role by Week 2 in the regular season. However, he frustrated fantasy owners, finishing as the RB25 overall in most PPR formats.
While the Bears did not upgrade their O-Line in any way this offseason, they did bring in new O-Line Coach Juan Castillo. There is still some reason for optimism for Montgomery’s outlook this season. Chicago faced the 5th most difficult schedule in 2019, whereas they are slated to have a somewhat easier road in 2020, tying for the 13th highest strength of schedule.
A healthy defense should help the game script and allow Chicago to stay competitive in more games. This should discourage Head Coach Matt Nagy from abandoning the running game as we so frequently observed last season. Additionally, GM Ryan Pace shared this offseason that there is room for a bigger workload for Montgomery in 2020.
Bears GM Ryan Pace believes David Montgomery can be the team’s featured running back and carry a heavier load, if the Bears opt to run more in 2020.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) February 25, 2020
Monty committed only 2 fumbles last season and accounted for 61% of his team’s work from the running back position. He also tied for third in the league for carries inside the 5-yard line according to PFF. He is due for positive TD regression. The Bears let Mike Davis, his primary competition for carries between the tackles, leave for Carolina. Chicago did little to address this loss, as they only added UDFA Artavis Pierce to the running back room. While teammate Tarik Cohen does limit Monty’s upside in the passing game, he poses very little threat to Monty’s carries or goal-line work.
I can see Montgomery finishing as high as the overall RB15 in 2020. If he stays healthy, given his guaranteed workload and being afforded an NFL offseason to improve his strength and conditioning, fantasy owners should feel safe with Montgomery as their RB2.
Montgomery’s one-cut, smash-mouth style of running is one that can wear down a defense. His physicality is my favorite part of his game, and for a rookie was impressive. While many are quick to write him off for his lackluster statistics last season, I’m not. Many fantasy owners forget that players are capable of working hard during an offseason and getting better. In the range that Monty is currently being drafted (David Johnson, Devin Singletary, Kareem Hunt, Raheem Mostert, Derrius Guice), most of the RBs come with perceived risks in the form of questionable health, workload, or reliability, all of which have been earned. Montgomery comes with none of these labels.
Considering that Chicago has long been due for upgrades on the O-Line, pass-rushing and inside linebacker depth, and might be in the market for a new quarterback next season. It is safe to assume that an early-round draft pick will not be used on a running back in the next few years.
In my opinion, Montgomery appears stamped into his current role for the foreseeable future. If you trust that Head Coach Matt Nagy has both learned and moved on from his erratic, pass-happy ways last season, Monty should be the primary beneficiary.
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