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Why David Montgomery Will Be A Top-15 RB In 2020

by Kyle Yates | @KyleYNFL | Featured Writer
May 12, 2020

Throughout the offseason, Kyle Yates will be highlighting several marquee fantasy players as he walks through his projection process. These projections are subject to change based on injuries, signings above/below them on the depth chart, new information regarding scheme or player usage, etc. They’ll serve as a way to give a “peek behind the curtain” into Kyle’s projections thought process and whether or not a player will be a fantasy value in 2020.

In this article, we look at how David Montgomery is well-positioned to finish as a top-15 RB in 2020.

David Montgomery

David Montgomery was certainly hyped up going into the 2019 season. As an incoming rookie out of Iowa State, he’d fallen into a great opportunity for touches in Chicago after the Bears traded up in the third round to select him.

In 2018, the Bears offense was humming and had shown us all enough to believe that it could continue to ascend if Mitchell Trubisky could take a step forward. Unfortunately, we all know what happened next and Trubisky’s inability to process and diagnose a defense hampered this offense more than words can communicate.

NFL defenses cracked the code on Trubisky in 2019 and made him process complex defenses snap after snap, while doing their best to hamper his rushing ability. Trubisky simply wasn’t able to keep up and the Bears offense saw the wheels come off from a game-planning and play-calling perspective. To make matters worse, key injuries on the offensive line exposed a lack of depth on the roster at that spot and the unit as a whole struggled.

Now, the Bears have brought in competition for Trubisky with the addition of Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. Foles has familiarity with Matt Nagy from their time together in Kansas City and he has the ability and knowledge to run this scheme in his sleep. While Foles is unlikely to ever be considered a top-tier starting QB in the NFL, he’s perfect for what the Bears need and he’ll be able to execute the offense. Defenses will have to respect Foles and Nagy’s innovative play-calling, which will allow Montgomery to finally see running lanes and more space to operate.

Projections

When projecting this Bears offense, you have to start with how many total plays you believe they’ll run and the rushing/passing percentage breakdowns.

In 2018, the Bears ran a total of 980 plays with a 48% rushing rate and a 52% passing rate. This is the sample year when the Bears offense was clicking and we saw Nagy’s innovative play-calling take center stage.

In 2019, when everything fell apart, the Bears ran a total of 975 plays with a 41% rushing percentage. This is in large part due to the fact that the Bears were trailing in a lot of games and needed to try to make up for it in “garbage time”. Moving forward, if we’re assuming that Foles will be the starter and will be able to get this offense back on track, we need to bounce back toward the 2018 sample to find our rushing/passing percentage breakdowns.

For 2020, I have projected the Chicago Bears to run a total of 970 plays with a 45/55 rushing-to-passing split. This splits the gap between the two years and gives us 440 rushing attempts to work with when projecting the Bears backfield.

Currently, the Bears backfield contains the following players:

There are a lot of unproven commodities behind Montgomery and Cohen, which indicates that the Bears feel comfortable moving forward with Montgomery as the feature back. Historically, Nagy has relied on a one-back system. For example, Kareem Hunt in 2017 (when Nagy was the OC of the Chiefs) saw 272 attempts on the ground, while the next RB had only 18 attempts all season.

This season, with the 440 total rushing attempts to work with from a projection standpoint, it’s not unrealistic to project the Bears backfield with the following carry percentages:

  • Montgomery: 65% (286 carries)
  • Cohen: 20% (88 carries)
  • Nall: 10% (44 carries)
  • Foles: 5% (22 carries)

Cohen has never received more than 99 carries a season in his short career, while you can count Nall’s career rushing attempts on one hand. This backfield is Montgomery’s to own and he’s going to receive a workload that not many RBs in the NFL see anymore.

Montgomery saw a heavy workload in 2019 with 242 carries. While he averaged a measly 3.7 yards per attempt, many factors tha go into that number. If we project forward a slight increase to 3.9 YPC, with our 65% carry percentage, he’s projected to go over 1,100 yards on the ground. He’s likely to become more of a factor in the passing game and should see a slight uptick in targets from 2019, as well.

Fantasy Outlook

Montgomery isn’t going to come out and push Christian McCaffrey for the No. 1 RB spot in fantasy football. With that being said, he’s walking into a tremendous workload in an offense that should be much improved from last season. This means more touches and greater scoring opportunities.

Many people are off on Monty from a fantasy perspective due to the hype that surrounded him last year and the failure to live up to expectations. However, he’s going to rebound this season and be a solid RB2 for your fantasy team.

The best part about Monty right now is that he’s a screaming value in Dynasty leagues and redraft ADP. He’s currently going behind guys like Miles Sanders, Kerryon Johnson, Devin Singletary, and James Conner, who just simply aren’t going to see the workload that Montgomery will this next season.

There are very few RBs who have this high of a carry percentage of their team’s rushing attempts. If Montgomery can take a step forward with the offense this season, he’s going to help teams win fantasy football championships.

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Kyle Yates is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Kyle, check out his archive and follow him @KyleYNFL.

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