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Ty Montgomery Fantasy 2017: The NFL’s Newest Every-Down RB1

Ty Montgomery Fantasy 2017
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Ty Montgomery Fantasy 2017

We’ve all heard it before; the NFL has become a passing league. The NFL average for rushing attempts has decreased every season since 2011. In fact, 14 different Quarterbacks threw the ball more than 550 times in 2016, yet only six QB’s threw that many times in 2010. Only three QB’s reached the 550 passing attempt milestone in 2005.

The league isn’t built for grinders like Michael Turner anymore (even though he was a phenomenal fantasy football asset). Running backs who can contribute in the passing game are more valuable than ever. Ben Gretch, @YardsPerGretch on Twitter, displayed this very fact.

Again, this is information you already knew. However, it doesn’t seem like the fantasy community as a whole has caught up with the times. We love big, sexy RB-WR hybrids like David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, but they are inspiring a new crop of RB’s molded in their images. Players who are not only capable of contributing but excelling in the passing game. In standard leagues, we are dismissing some of these versatile and dynamic playmakers because we assume they can’t hold up to between-the-tackles workloads or produce TD’s. 2017 is the right time to change that mentality, and we have the perfect prophet of passing game proficiency to lead us to the promised land: Ty Montgomery. I backed up my Montgomery love by selecting him in the 4th round of our recent Gridiron Experts Staff Mock Draft.

The Case for RB1 Status

Ty Montgomery will finish as an RB1 in 2017 in both standard and PPR formats. Those who are more apprehensive lay out the following argument. Montgomery has limited experience at the RB position, playing WR all the way through college and his first year in the NFL. His ability to run inside of the tackles is often called into question, merely because we haven’t seen a large sample of carries yet. He is viewed as an upright runner who takes too many hits and has difficulty breaking tackles, often going down on first contact. This lack of experience was most evident in his struggles with pass protection, which could prevent him from becoming a true every-down player. Additionally, the Packers drafted not one, not two, but three RBs in the 2016 NFL Draft. If only the story ended there for his critics.

Montgomery was shown to be an evasive and dynamic player on the ground and through the air in 2016, regularly evading tackles, generating yards after contact, and breaking off long gains. Montgomery carries NFL feature-back size at 6’0” and 215 lbs and above-average athleticism in nearly every category. Each of the rookies mentioned above was drafted in 4th round or later and possess significant flaws, including the same pass-protection concerns surrounding Montgomery. In other words, none of them are superior talents to Montgomery, nor do their skill sets, or body types separate themselves from each other or Montgomery. As if all of that isn’t enough, Montgomery is attached to the most prolific QB of our generation, Aaron Rodgers.

Montgomery is Attached to a Prolific Offense

I’m sure you don’t need a hard sell on the productivity of the Green Bay Packers offense or the boost it provides for its individual fantasy pieces, but I’ll give you a brief overview. The table below shows the Packers yearly finishes in a variety of offensive statistics, as well as their 5-year average finishes.

Year Scoring % Total Yards Total Points OFF DVOA Rush DVOA Pts/ Drive
2016 4 8 4 4 5 3
2015 21 23 15 11 10 15
2014 1 6 1 1 6 1
2013 3 3 8 9 3 7
2012 9 13 5 3 13 8
5-Year AVG 7.6 10.6 6.6 5.6 7.4 6.8

Over the past five seasons, Green Bay has averaged a top-10 finish in a variety of offensive statistics. The Packers yearly finish in Football Outsiders Rushing DVOA might come as a surprise to many NFL fans. Despite their pass-first reputation, they are nearly as efficient running the ball as they are passing. TD’s generally have high year-to-year variance, but Green Bay never fails to produce them in bunches. Clearly, if Montgomery can possess a significant opportunity share in the Packers offense, he will have ample opportunities to score oodles of fantasy points.

Based on the talent and productivity that Montgomery displayed in his first season at the RB position, the job should be his. Albeit in a somewhat limited sample of 121 touches (77 carries and 44 receptions), Montgomery was an efficient, explosive, and evasive player with the ball in his hands. The table below illustrates some of Montgomery’s particular strengths. For those unfamiliar, Juke Rate is the number of evaded tackles divided by the number of touches, and Breakaway Run Rate is the percentage of a player’s carries that went for 15 or more yards.

Stat Yards After Contact/Touch Juke Rate Breakaway Run Rate
Ranking #1 #3 #2

Above stats provided via PlayerProfiler.com

Due to his WR background, Montgomery has the reputation of being easy to tackle and going down on first contact. However, the numbers indicate the exact opposite. Montgomery generated more yards after contact per touch than any other RB in the NFL last season. Yes, this number would regress with increased volume, but he has already demonstrated the required skills to create tough yards. Montgomery also displayed elusiveness and big-play ability to complement his talent for creating yards after contact. So, in summary, Montgomery can break tackles, elude tackles, and produce explosive plays. What else are we looking for in an NFL RB exactly? If Montgomery can display these same talents with increased rushing volume, he will challenge for a place among the elite rushers in the NFL alongside his receiving pedigree. The impeccable Graham Barfield demonstrated just how rare Montgomery’s skill set is.

The Rookie Hype is Overblown

Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones are key cogs in the anti-Montgomery argument. Why would the Packers draft these rookies if they had faith that Montgomery could be their feature back? First, Green Bay did not invest high draft capital in either Williams or Jones, selecting them in the 4th and 5th rounds, as the 13th and 19th RB off the board respectively. They passed on opportunities to draft superior talents to fill positions of greater need, indicating that both picks were made as depth or insurance policies as opposed to Montgomery replacements. In addition to mediocre draft capital, neither Williams nor Jones is a superior athletic prospect. In fact, Williams boasts a below-average 36th percentile SPARQ score. While Jones does possess an impressive athletic profile (similar to Montgomery), he is a small-school prospect out of UTEP with significant pass-blocking concerns, ranking 37th in the 2017 RB class in Blocking Grade according to Pro Football Focus.

Furthermore, because Montgomery is a converted WR, fantasy owners assume that he has the diminutive physical stature of a typical 3rd-down back. However, Montgomery weighs in at 6’0” 220 lbs, which is slightly bigger than Jamaal Williams (6’0”, 212 lbs) who is falsely viewed as the larger, more powerful RB. Aaron Jones is not any larger at 5’9”, 208 lbs. Not only does Montgomery have the clear receiving advantage over Williams and Jones due to his WR background, but he also possesses equivalent or better feature-back size. Sprinkle in the advantage of Montgomery’s year of dynamic and efficient NFL production, and it becomes apparent that neither Williams nor Jones are a realistic threat to unseat Montgomery as the Packers’ feature back.

Ty Montgomery displayed true rushing talent in 2016, a season in which he started the year as a WR. An offseason spent completing the transition to RB only serves to help Montgomery develop and improve as a between-the-tackles runner and a pass-blocker. He possesses feature-back size, explosiveness, elusiveness, and, most importantly, versatility. If Montgomery can demonstrate adequate or above-average blocking, he will dominate the lion’s share of the work in a prolific and explosive offense helmed by the magician Aaron Rodgers. The hype is beginning to pick up on Montgomery (he was even featured on a recent episode of The Empire podcast), so it’s time to join in or get left behind. The NFL is ripe for the Ty Montgomery’s of the world to take over and dominate, across all fantasy league formats. Pulling from a Chinese proverb, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” Don’t get left behind building your walls brick-by-brick. Instead, draft future first-rounder Ty Montgomery while he is still a value.

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About the author

Hunter Gibbon

Hunter Gibbon

Hunter is an Oklahoma City native who graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.S. in Mathematics. He has a penchant for analytics and views sports primarily through a statistical prism. He remains unbiased when analyzing and watching sports, but the Dallas Cowboys and OKC Thunder have a special place in his heart. Fantasy football has been a favorite pastime of his as long as he can remember, particularly the 16-team home league he commissions with his younger brother and DFS. Hunter is an avid writer, a professional wrestling fanatic, and a literature and television snob. If he isn't watching Better Call Saul or Jane the Virgin, reading a novel, or watching Roman Reigns spear someone into next week, he is spending time with his wife and his dog in Yukon, Oklahoma.

1 Comment

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  • This is well-written. Informative. Statistical. Analytical.

    Another intangible asset Monty possesses, which arguably is his greatest strength, is his deception – i.e., the ability to deceive defenders into committing to a lane or a position and then exploit it to his advantage. That is an underrated aspect of a runners game. Le’Veon Bell is the master of the art of deception. The following is a portion of Bell’s “strengths” from his combine analysis, which mirror Monty’s strengths based on his 2016 performance:

    “Strong cuts and a nice burst out of them makes him capable of breaking off big runs when the hole is available. Sets up defenders in the open field to cut away. Flashes some stop-start ability and shake in space that freezes oncoming defenders.”

    I believe in The Full Monty.

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