The Case for David Montgomery in 2020

by Christopher Buonagura ·

David Montgomery is viewed as a borderline RB2 in seasonal drafts this year and he is obtainable in dynasty trades. He’s ranked as the RB25 on PlayerProfiler’s dynasty rankings, while the “World Famous Draft Kit” ranks him at RB23 in seasonal PPR leagues. His FFPC ADP is in the mid-40s and he often falls into the fifth round of drafts. Chicago’s lackluster 2019 season diminished the fantasy value of its star players. Many will pass on Montgomery this season, failing to see his upside. His player profile and advanced stats suggest he is due for ample volume in 2020 despite his poor efficiency metrics.

Prospect Profile

Lets recall the hype surrounding David Montgomery going into the 2019 season. He joined the Chicago Bears as an early third round draft pick, designated to replace Jordan Howard‘s 250 carries and nine touchdowns. Montgomery performed well in his final two seasons at Iowa State. He posted a 30.5-percent (69th-percentile) College Dominator Rating with a 9.6-percent (71st-percentile) College Target Share.

Montgomery’s average athleticism and dreadful 4.7 (18th-percentile) College Yards per Carry depressed his value in dynasty rookie drafts. His efficiency remains in question following a subpar rookie season with both good and bad points. The positives include 75 (No. 13) Evaded Tackles with a 28.1-percent (No. 13) Juke Rate. The negatives include averaging 3.5 (No. 56) True Yards per Carry and a -23.2 (No. 69) Production Premium.

Jordan Howard Comparison

David Montgomery is Chicago’s early-down grinder, with Tarik Cohen being the primary receiving back. Montgomery’s 2019 usage closely mirrors Jordan Howard‘s 2018 usage, demonstrating Matt Nagy’s intentions.

Chicago Bears RB Snap Shares/Opportunity Shares, 2018-2019

The consensus is that Montgomery’s ceiling starts and ends with Howard’s 2018 production. A deeper dig quickly shows this is not the case. Howard played a full season in 2018 with a full workload, only once (Week 12) did he have less than 10 total touches with a sub-40 percent Snap Share. In 2019, Montgomery played 13 games with full usage. In Week 1, he was limited to seven touches with a 36.7 percent-Snap Share, he missed Week 6 with injury, and was limited to four opportunities in Week 7. Montgomery, as a rookie, matched Howard’s 2018 stats in fewer games.

Chicago Bears RB Production Metrics, 2018-2019

Montgomery outperformed Howard in almost every efficiency metric available on PlayerProfiler. Howard had four more Breakaway Runs in 2018 and a better Breakaway Run Rate than 2019 Montgomery. They also posted similar True Yards per Carry, only separated by 0.1 yards. Montgomery is inefficient, but faces high volume with a better overall profile than Howard. He’s being drafted and traded with expectations of being the next Howard. Buying Montgomery at that value is a win.

Strength of Schedule

The argument that David Montgomery is an RB2 in all scoring formats in 2020 is supported by expected Game Script. Jordan Howard enjoyed the second best Game Script for a running back in 2018. Montgomery saw the No. 14 ranked Game Script for running backs in 2019. The dropoff was due to declining defensive performance, increased strength of schedule, and a decrease in Run Blocking Efficiency.

The defense will continue to be good after reloading this offseason with the addition of Robert Quinn and much needed depth in the secondary. The offensive line can take a step forward with strong continuity from 2019 to 2020. Furthermore, the Bears are projected to enjoy a top 5 strength of schedule in 2020.

Split Backfield

Positive Game Script is on the menu for David Montgomery in 2020. Matt Nagy came out and said Montgomery can be a workhorse in this backfield. Tarik Cohen is a fantastic PPR flex option and has 100-target upside, but his 104 targets will regress alongside the Game Script.

Check out David Montgomery’s 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

Cohen has already seen an overall decrease in productivity from his incredible rookie season. A healthy Cohen limits Montgomery to an RB2 ceiling. An injury to Cohen unlocks a true workhorse in Chicago. Montgomery’s rushing volume will support a stable weekly floor regardless of his receptions. Remember, he is valued as an RB3 more often than an RB2 this offseason. Go acquire him now at proper value with room to grow.

The Hidden Truth

The secret about David Montgomery‘s upcoming success also includes improved scheme. Chicago’s offseason moves signal they plan to run the ball. Their mission was clear: acquire tight ends. Why commit significant roster space, draft capital, and cap space to the tight end position? The NFL is a copycat league, and the latest trend is 12-personnel. Many teams do it and the Bears are the latest to adopt it. Follow the money and it is obvious that 12-personnel is on the horizon for this offense. The clear winner in a 12-personnel scheme is Montgomery.


Go draft David Montgomery or go acquire him in trade. Do not be afraid of the remnants of Jordan Howard‘s 2018 season. Get Montgomery at value, but do not overpay in any format. He is better than Howard and primed for a good 2020 season. However, Montgomery stills offers overall subpar efficiency and athleticism in the long term. Ride out his opportunity and Game Script for 2020 and then sell in 2021.