David Montgomery has found a new home with the Detroit Lions. Montgomery is now expected to take over for former incumbent Jamaal Williams as the early down running back on a team that ranked fifth in points per game in 2022. Lions head coach Dan Campbell just got himself a shiny new workhorse.
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David Montgomery signed with the Detroit Lions on a three-year deal worth $18 million with $11 million guaranteed.
David Montgomery has just stepped in as the presumed early-down workhorse for the Detroit Lions. He is no stranger to early-down work, as he spent the last four years of his career averaging 229 rush attempts per year for the Chicago Bears.
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Montgomery shouldn't have to worry about being overly efficient in Detroit. In 2022, Williams was the definition of an early-down grinder, carrying the ball 262 times while averaging 4.1 yards per attempt. As inefficient as Williams was, the Lions kept on feeding him. In comparison, a much younger Montgomery averaged four yards per carry behind a seemingly worse Bears offensive line and offense.
Montgomery finished as RB26 in fantasy points per game in 2022, which would've classified him as an RB3 on most fantasy rosters. Meanwhile, an older and less agile Williams finished as RB18 in fantasy points per game. An elevated fantasy floor can be expected for Montgomery in 2023. He likely won't reach RB1 status, but he should be bumped up rankings across all formats. Montgomery is an underrated receiver. However, expect that most of Montgomery's fantasy value will be created through carries rather than receptions.
How this affects D'Andre Swift is somewhat shrouded in mystery. To the dismay of many fantasy managers, Swift seemed to be on the outs in 2022. A far more efficient player than Williams, he seemed not to fit the grinder culture that Dan Campbell exuded upon the team. In 2023, Swift will carry a base salary of $1,774,397. He's certainly a player the Lions could afford to cut or trade. Judging by the history of the player and ball club, it seems like it would be in the best interest of both parties to move on from each other.
As for Detroit, Jamaal Williams is all but gone. He's sure to land on his feet for one of the many teams needing a reliable early-down running back.
For now, Montgomery's departure leaves former Virginia Tech running back and fantasy handcuff extraordinaire Khalil Herbert as the unrivaled RB1 for the Bears. Dynasty managers are rejoicing in the streets, and they should be for a good reason. Herbert has always impressed with the limited opportunity he's been given over the past two years. In 2022, Herbert was ranked seventh in yards per touch. He's a more than capable runner with efficient footwork and a physical profile more than qualified to shoulder 230-plus attempts. The Herbert faithful will be closely watching the remainder of the offseason in hopes that the Bears do not make any other significant additions to their backfield.
Behind Herbert is former Baylor running back Trestan Ebner, along with newly acquired Travis Homer. Ebner had performed well during the 2022 preseason. He was, however, relegated to only 24 carries and two receptions during 2022. Ebner is an athletic player who scored as an upper percentile athlete with an 89th percentile speed score, which shows on tape. He is slighter than desired by most NFL coaches to shoulder a heavy load but could be a dark horse as the Bears' designated receiving back in 2023. He makes for a very cheap addition in Dynasty formats.
Homer offers little fantasy value and should be disregarded as a fantasy asset.
David Montgomery’s value should see a marginal bump through significant rushing volume and as the designated goal-line running back for the Chicago Bears. Williams scored 17 rushing touchdowns last year. Fourteen came on 28 attempts from inside the opponent’s five-yard line. While anticipating Montgomery will come close to 17 touchdowns is unrealistic, it’s safe to say his bread and butter will be made from the same portion of the field.