David Montgomery's Fantasy Football Draft Stock With the Detroit Lions

Mar 15, 2023
David Montgomery's Fantasy Football Draft Stock With the Detroit Lions

Former Chicago Bear David Montgomery has found a new home in the rival NFL North, by signing a three-year $18 million deal ($11 million guarantee) with the Detroit Lions. This decision indicates that the team is likely moving on from Jamaal Williams, deploying a split backfield between Monty and fourth-year RB D'Andre Swift.

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David Montgomery’s Early-Down Resume

The 25-year-old is no stranger to heavy workloads, as Montgomery has averaged 229 rush attempts per season since entering the league in 2019 which averages out to the 12th most among RBs in that time frame. His output has been a mixed bag, posting half-PPR finishes per game of RB8 and RB17 in 2020 and 2021 respectively, with a drop-down to RB28 in 2022.

Last year is viewed as a down year for Montgomery. Still, interestingly enough, the RB was reasonably efficient, posting the 14th-most yards after contact per carry (minimum 100 attempts) and he was fifth in broken tackle percentage (10%) with the eighth most broken tackles (20) among RBs with 100 carries. Here’s a look at where that efficiency sits compared to Montgomery’s three other years in the NFL.

David Montgomery Career Efficiency Metrics
Year YAC/Carry Rank YAC/Carry Broken Tackle % Rank Broken Tackle % Broken Tackles Rank Broken Tackles
2022 14th 2 5th 10% 8th 20
2021 29th 1.9 23rd 7.10% 15th 16
2020 15th 2.4 4th 11.70% 3rd 29
2019 40th 1.6 7th 11.60% 6th 28

*All data courtesy of 4for4's NFL Player Stat Explorer

Considering what he’s being brought in to do for Detroit—which is the early-down grinder with the ability to punch it in the end zone—Montgomery fits the bill.

He’ll also be getting an upgrade at offensive line which doesn’t hurt his potential, as the Lions sat seventh last year in adjusted line yards according to Football Outsiders (4.66), while the Bears ranked 11th (4.52).

David Montgomery vs. Jamaal Williams as a Fantasy Asset

Williams had an incredible 2022 season for those Zero-RB drafters who snagged him in the early 14th round at pick 157.9 in Underdog drafts. The 27-year-old posted a career-record 17 touchdowns which blew the prior high of four he scored in his rookie campaign clear out of the stratosphere. As friend of 4for4 Ian Hartitz so perfectly pointed out here, 13 of those scores came from within the four-yard line, and 10 were basically falling in the end zone.

That type of touchdown dependency is not something we can rely on for fantasy purposes, but the key here is that Montgomery is not only a better rusher between the tackles than Williams but his pass game prowess sets him above in this new offense. Monty was 13th among RBs in yards after catch per reception with 8.3 last season (minimum 20 targets) and was 14th in routes run percentage (42.9%). The former Bear had an 11.8% target share in Chicago which sat 11th.

Backfield Outlook for the Lions

We certainly can’t forget about D'Andre Swift, as the fourth-year back is still in the mix in Detroit as least for now. He appeared to be in the dog house of sorts last season and doesn’t seem to fit the grinding prototype Dan Campbell craves from his offensive weapons. Swift has missed 10 contests in his three years as a professional, and his usage is headed in the wrong direction as he saw the least number of carries in his career (99) in 2022 and his target volume went down from 78 to 70 with just 48 receptions last season.

We can safely assume that Montgomery was signed to take the early-down snaps and if Swift misses any time, is capable of handling legitimate passing work, as well. Before the deal, Swift’s Underdog ADP was in the fifth round at pick 54.4, which will likely fall as Montgomery’s presence should inhibit an RB15 performance from the 24-year-old.

As far as Monty goes, he was leaving draft boards as RB36 in the 10th round with an ADP of 118.4. With significant projected rushing volume and the takeover of goal-line work left by Williams, Montgomery’s draft stock should rise up to fantasy RB2 territory.

Bottom Line

  • Despite the perceived down year for David Montgomery in 2022, the RB was fairly efficient across the board.
  • Signing with the Lions gives Montgomery a meaty role vacated by Jamaal Williams in an up-and-coming offense. He’ll also get two revenge games per season which sweeten the pot.
  • As long as both D'Andre Swift and Montgomery are on the roster and on the field, they are both considered RB2s for fantasy purposes.
  • Both Swift and Montgomery offer pass-catching upside and with Monty’s ADP very affordable at 118.4 right now, he makes for the better stack option in best ball formats since Amon Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, and Swift are all being drafted in Round 5 or earlier.
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