David Montgomery Is Set Up for Fantasy Success With the Lions

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz

Training camps have opened for teams around the NFL. Just like the players are gearing up for the new season, it's time for fantasy players to get up to speed with the information you need.

Today, we'll look at David Montgomery, who signed a contract with the Detroit Lions during free agency. How will joining an exciting young offense with a great offensive line impact his fantasy value?

David Montgomery Fantasy Football Projection

(All projections via

Positional Ranking: RB26
Projected Stats:

  • 212 rush attempts
  • 880 rushing yards
  • 7.7 rushing touchdowns
  • 27 receptions
  • 233 receiving yards
  • 1.5 receiving touchdowns

David Montgomery Fantasy Football Outlook

Inconsistent With the Bears

David Montgomery has been somewhat polarizing in fantasy football circles since entering the NFL in 2019.

That 2019 rookie season saw him finish as the RB25 in half-PPR scoring. That didn't seem like anything to get too excited about, as he never flashed a ton of upside. He had just two games with more than 100 rushing yards and three games with four or more targets.

The appeal to him heading into the 2020 season was that he was going later in drafts than most other starting running backs and had a clear path to volume. Things were mostly the same at the beginning of 2020 until a post-bye-week explosion. Something clicked for him after that bye. From Week 12 on, he was the RB2 by points per game. He scored eight touchdowns in six games, but perhaps more encouragingly, he had at least four targets in four of six games.

In 2021, Montgomery flashed some upside, but injuries limited him to 13 games. He was poor from a real-life standpoint, averaging -0.36 rushing yards over expected per carry, according to Next Gen Stats. The Chicago Bears had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL that season, so it doesn't all fall on Montgomery. He was still able to have more than 20 fantasy points in four separate games despite playing in a meh offense behind a bad O-Line.

The 2022 campaign was the toughest season for Montgomery since his rookie year. He averaged just 10.0 half-PPR points per game. He again struggled in rush yards over expected, with -0.22 yards over expected per attempt. He ended the year as the RB27 by points per game. There weren't many positives to pull from his 2022 effort.

As you can tell, Montgomery had a ton of ups and downs with the Bears. He certainly had his moments of being a useful fantasy back, but he also left fantasy players wanting more.

Moving forward, it wouldn't be too surprising to see similar outputs from Montgomery, but there are reasons that his new landing spot can be a positive.

Improved Situation for 2023

Montgomery signed a three-year, $18-million deal this offseason. With the struggles that many running backs have had getting paid this summer, this was not an insignificant deal.

He joins an exciting Lions team that has undergone some interesting changes on offense coming into the season. Montgomery isn't the only new running back to join the team as Detroit used the 12th pick in the draft to select Jahmyr Gibbs from Alabama.

Much of the talk about these two backs has been about how they will split up the running back touches. Last season, D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams had somewhat clearly defined roles. With Swift and Williams gone, Detroit could slide Montgomery and Gibbs right into those vacated roles.

Swift saw an average of five targets per game and was clearly preferred in passing situations. Williams rode his ground-based, red-zone role into 18 touchdowns, the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. Gibbs was a prolific pass catcher in college, and many assume he will play that role with Detroit. That would give Montgomery Williams' role, which could lead to him getting plenty of red-zone work.

Of course, this is all guesswork, and we won't know what the Lions have in mind until the season starts. It likely won't be a direct translation as Montgomery and Williams aren't the same players, and the same goes for Swift and Gibbs.

Montgomery will likely be used as a receiver more than Williams was. Williams saw just 16 targets all of last season, including only four across his last 10 games. In his career, Montgomery has proven to be a capable receiver, amassing at least 25 grabs in all four seasons, and that should continue with a quarterback who likes to check down in Jared Goff.

One area where Montgomery will certainly see an upgrade thanks to his move is Detroit's offensive line. According to PFF, the Bears' offensive line is ranked 21st, seven spots worse than where they were last year. Meanwhile, Detroit has built one of the league's best lines. PFF slots it fifth, and they could get even better if Penei Sewell continues to develop. This is better than any line Montgomery ran behind with Chicago.

It's also probably the best offense he's played in during his NFL career. Even if Montgomery is splitting work, he still can produce in this situation.

Where Should We Draft Montgomery in 2023?

Currently, Montgomery is being selected as the RB30 (72nd overall) in half-PPR drafts, per FantasyPros.

The running backs who are being drafted near him are the likes of Rachaad White, Isiah Pacheco, Javonte Williams and Alvin Kamara. This is a tier of talented backs who all have some holes in their profile, so it makes sense that Montgomery goes in this range.

White and Pacheco both had solid but unspectacular rookie seasons. White will play on a worse offense than Pacheco but has a clearer path to volume, especially in the passing game. Williams' and Kamara's holes are both games-played related. Williams is coming off of a serious knee injury while Kamara has a suspension looming over his head.

Montgomery doesn't have the same concerns. His main issue is the shared workload with Gibbs, but there's a chance Montgomery gets more work than we're assuming he will. The Lions had a lower pass rate than expected last season. If they continue to run the ball at a fairly high rate, the touches should be there for Montgomery to push for an RB2 (top-24) season. Plus, there's always a chance that Gibbs is eased into things early in the year or that the rookie misses time due to injury, with the latter scenario clearing a path for Montgomery to be a league-winning back.

And don't forget about Montgomery's potential red-zone role. Jamaal Williams tallied 48 red-zone rushes last year, 28 of which came inside the 10 -- two numbers that were NFL-leading marks. It's unlikely that this offense will once again produce that many red-zone and goal-line rushing opportunities for just one back, even if the offense is excellent once more. That said, if Montgomery can get close to half that volume, it'll be a big boost to his touchdown potential.

All in all, Montgomery is a fine selection where he's currently going, especially if you are waiting on running backs.

The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.