The New-Look Bears Backfield Makes David Montgomery an Early-Round Fade

by Joshua Kellem · Draft Strategy

Using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics, and analytics, let’s unearth how there’s no way David Montgomery will finish as an RB1 in fantasy football redraft leagues this season with Damien Williams and a returning Tarik Cohen in the fold.

Below are key statistics to know while following along:

Opportunity Share – Percentage of a team’s total running back carries + targets for a particular back.

Weighted Opportunities – Determines which backs receive the most meaningful touches.

Green Zone – Goal-to-go carries + targets for a particular back.

David Montgomery

David Montgomery was fantasy football’s RB6 on a points-per-game basis last season. He totaled a 76.2-percent (No. 4 among qualified running backs) Snap Share, a 73.9-percent (No. 7) Opportunity Share16.5 (No. 7) Carries per Game and 4.5 (No. 8) Targets per Game on 24.9 (No. 3) Routes Run per Game – on a Bears team averaging 24.6 (No. 27) Team Run Plays per Game.

Montgomery also totaled 23 (No. 10) Green Zone Carries and created 255.0 (No. 5) Weighted Opportunities. The opportunity led him to average 100.5 Total Yards per Game and 3.6 (No. 7) Receptions per Game, score 10 (No. 10) Total Touchdowns, and produce 11 top-24 weekly finishes, including six consecutive top-eight finishes to end the season. With the signing of Damien Williams, however, Montgomery is a clear fade this year based on ADP in redraft leagues.

Tarik Cohen

From Weeks 1-3 when Tarik Cohen was healthy, David Montgomery was fantasy football’s RB26 on a points-per-game basis – averaging a 51.9-percent Snap Share, 14.3 Carries per Game, 16.3 Routes Run per Game, and 3.0 Targets per Game. He parlayed the opportunity into 85 Total Yards per Game, 2.0 Receptions per Game, one touchdown, and one top-10 weekly finish. Nothing to write home about. When Cohen was healthy, Montgomery’s Snap Share decreased 24.3-percent, his carries decreased by 2.2 per game, his routes run decreased by 8.6 per game, and his targets decreased by 1.5 per game. Now, enter Damien Williams.

For more context, Cohen was fantasy football’s RB57 on a points-per-game basis from Weeks 1-3 when healthy. He averaged a 37.3-percent Snap Share, 4.7 Carries per Game, 18 Routes Run per Game, and 3.0 targets per game. Cohen parlayed his opportunity into 38.3 Total Yards per Game – failing to post even one RB3 week (top-36 weekly finish) along the way. Montgomery also paced Cohen in Green Zone Touches by a 2-1 margin. Those aren’t opportunity numbers that will provide standalone fantasy value for Cohen – just enough usage to render Montgomery too rich for our blood at ADP.

Damien Williams

Since the play-callers from last season are returning, it’s safe to assume the offense’s usage rates this season will remain comparable. That said, adding another viable back to the backfield means David Montgomery’s Snap Share will fall south of 50-percent. For context, a full-time player plays on about 70-percent of his team’s snaps. While Montgomery still managed 14.3 Carries per Game with Tarik Cohen, and should still total double-digit carries with Damien Williams in the fold, 22 of Montgomery’s 23 Green Zone Carries occurred when Cohen was out. In 2019 when he last played, Williams totaled eight Green Zone Carries. That’s nothing that’ll get the group chats talking, but it’s enough scoring opportunities being taken away from Montgomery to make him a fade at cost.

That, coupled with the high possibility that Williams (3.4 Targets per Game in 2019) and a healthy Cohen (3.0 Targets per Game in 2020) will turn Montgomery’s 24.9 Routes Run per Game into a single-digit per-game average, is why we’re out on Montgomery at ADP. Earning a target is a skill, but with the limited opportunities for last season’s RB6 on a point-per-game basis, his 4.5 Targets per Game will inevitably decrease. He’s nowhere close to a top 12 back in fantasy football this season. Williams’ last game played, Super Bowl LIV, was also arguably his best. He totaled 17 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, adding four receptions on eight targets for 29 yards and another touchdown. He’ll turn the Bears backfield into a three-back committee.

Usually, targeting ambiguous backfields creates one of the biggest edges in redraft leagues for fantasy gamers, but in the case of the Bears, not one back will offer standalone fantasy value unless an injury occurs.

Actionable Advice

As of this writing, David Montgomery is being selected in the fourth round as RB23 in best ball drafts, per Underdog Fantasy. Fade him at this cost and select Melvin Gordon (RB26), Chase Edmonds (RB27), Raheem Mostert (RB28), Myles Gaskin (RB30), and/or Mike Davis (RB32) instead.