Now in Detroit, Montgomery will theoretically replace Jamaal Williams as the team's physical running back. In that role over two years, Williams averaged 13.8 carries and 1.3 catches per game with 20 touchdowns (17 in 2022). It's fair to expect Montgomery to get close to that workload with a shot at scoring several times near the goal line. But the Lions' other running back addition -- rookie Jahmyr Gibbs -- should not only handle passing downs but could eat into Montgomery's role. Montgomery averaged 11.1 PPR points per game splitting in Chicago last season, a number he should be able to match in Motown with upside to hit the 13.3 PPR points Williams had in 2022. It's just enough to put him toward the top of the No. 3 running back group (and the very bottom of the No. 2 tier) as a worthy Round 6 pick.
The former Bears RB finds himself with an opportunity to lead a committee backfield with the Lions behind an offensive line that’s much better than any he played behind in Chicago.
The tricky part of Montgomery’s fantasy outlook is Jahmyr Gibbs. The rookie will almost certainly take the backfield’s lead receiving role. We’ll see about the rushing split.Ultimately, Montgomery makes sense in the range where RB2 crosses over to RB3. His ceiling case includes capturing the goal-line work that propelled Jamaal Williams into the top 15 across formats last year.
Montgomery gets more attractive in non-PPR formats.
What We Learned Last YearMontgomery has recorded mixed levels of success since turning pro in 2019. He finished last season as the RB24 in PPR.He finished 2022 with just four top-12 weekly finishes and four more inside the top 24, among his 16 games.It’s a little disappointing to see that Mongtomery didn’t contribute more in an extremely run-heavy Bears offense:31st in pass rateThe lowest Pass Rate Over Expectation among any NFL team since 2016 (-14.1%)In fairness, Justin Fields skewed the numbers a bit. He accounted for 30% of the Bears’ team rushing attempts, including 70 scrambles.Despite ranking second in the league in team rushing attempts, the Bears ranked just 14th in RB carries.It’s also worth noting that the Bears’ offensive line hasn’t done Montgomery many favors throughout his career. Here’s how the team finished in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards since he entered the league:29th (3.86)25th (4.16)23rd (4.06)11th (4.50)Montgomery finished last season behind teammate RB Khalil Herbert in Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted yards above replacement in both 2021 and 2022:Montgomery: 25th among RBs in 2022 (66), 43rd in 2021 (-16)Herbert: 11th among RBs in 2022 (128), 27th in 2021 (78)Among 41 RBs who recorded 100+ carries, Montgomery ranked 37th in Pro Football Focus rushing grade, tied for 22nd in yards after contact per attempt (2.90), and 13th in elusive rating.Montgomery ranked fourth on the team in targets, catching 34 passes for 314 yards and 1 TD.
What to Expect in 2023The Lions’ front office believed enough in Montgomery to give him a three-year, $18 million contract.The team subsequently selected Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall. This Lions’ backfield will certainly be split.Montgomery will find himself behind the best offensive line of his career to date. The Lions ranked seventh in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards last year.With RB Jamaal Williams no longer on the roster, there’s a rather significant void to fill in the red-zone offense. Williams leaves behind:45 carries inside the 10-yard line (16 more than any other RB)28 carries inside the 5 (12 more than any other RB)16.4 expected rushing TDs (6.3 more than any other RB)Should Montgomery seize even a decent chunk of this vacated opportunity, he’ll hold a great deal of weekly fantasy appeal.
Montgomery signed with the Lions as a de facto Jamaal Williams replacement and will team up with rookie Jahmyr Gibbs to form a potentially-elite RB duo. During four seasons in Chicago, Montgomery never finished a season lower than 20th in touches, 21st in yards or 24th in fantasy points among RBs. Even with Gibbs in the mix, he has a good chance to keep that streak going, especially in a fantasy-friendly role that allowed Williams a league-high 17 TDs and 28 carries inside the opponent's 5-yard line last season. Montgomery (14th among RBs in targets since 2019) is a more accomplished receiver than Williams, so there's a lot to like in a Detroit offense that led the NFL with 501 RB fantasy points in 2022. Target Montgomery as a flex option.