One of the bigger debates of the 2018 offseason has been whether or not the Green Bay Packers will keep Ty Montgomery at running back or if they will move him back to wide receiver.
The combination of last season’s injuries, rookies Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams having impressive debut campaigns, and Green Bay’s decision to move on from receiver Jordy Nelson, it seemed probable that Montgomery could make the switch. In February, this notion gained steam as many around the industry suggested that it was the right time for the move.
At face value, a move back to WR for Montgomery does make sense. The move would mean less wear and tear as the fourth year pro does come with durability concerns. After all, he has missed 19 games in his career and 18 of those games came in 2015 and 2017 when he was a bigger part of the offense and was on the field more.
- 2015: Missed 10 games and finished the season on injured reserve (ankle)
- 2016: Hardly played until the midseason switch to running back, only missed one game
- 2017: Missed eight games and finished the season on injured reserve (rib and wrist)
On top of his injury-plagued career, the decision to cut WR Jordy Nelson created a void on a then thin receiving core. It wasn’t until this year’s NFL Scouting Combine that Head Coach Mike McCarthy put an end to the position change rumors. “He’s a multi-positional player,” McCarthy said. “He’s a running back, but he gives us great flexibility to use him so many different ways. That won’t change.”
The Packers went on to select Missouri’s J’Mon Moore in the fourth round (133rd overall), USF’s Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth, 174), and Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth, 207) in the 2018 NFL Draft. This marked the fifth time that Green Bay selected three wide receivers since 1992 and the moves put to bed once and for all the idea that Montgomery may change positions.
Ty Montgomery Fantasy 2018
Packers Wide Receivers
|19||Equanimeous St. Brown||6-5||214||21||R|
This year’s Packers offense could be one of the most dynamic in the NFL. The Packers receiving core is young, promising, and most importantly BIG.
The Packers only have one wide receiver that stands under six feet tall and he just happens to be one of the better slot receivers in the NFL in Randall Cobb. Beyond the wide receivers, the Packers may have the most impressive tight end corps in the NFL as well. On top of signing Jimmy Graham early in the offseason, they added all-pro tight end Marcedes Lewis on May 25.
#Packers sign TE Marcedes Lewis
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) May 25, 2018
The signing gives the Packers nine potential pass catchers over 6’3″ that could contribute this season. When you begin to factor in a stacked backfield that will feature three young backs, including Montgomery alongside sophomore’s Williams and Jones, the Packers will undoubtedly have no trouble scoring points. With all this firepower, What exactly will Montgomery’s role be?
Here’s what we know: When he’s given opportunity he produces. With 233 touches in three seasons, he’s racked up 1401 yards from scrimmage and has found the end zone nine times. Montgomery is a yardage monster when he gets the rock. In his career, he averages over six yards per touch. An average that is higher than David Johnson, Kareem Hunt, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliot, Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette’s over the same span.
So it begs the question, if Montgomery stayed healthy in 2017 would we be talking about a top ten fantasy RB heading into 2018? Possibly, but the reality is Green Bay will most likely head into next season deploying a three-headed monster at the position. In Montgomery’s absence, 2017 rookies Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams both proved that they belong in the NFL. Jones ran for 125 yards and scored against Dallas in week 5 and then ran for 131 and a score against New Orleans. Williams ran for 113 yards and scored against Tampa Bay and caught seven balls for 69 yards and scored against Cleveland.
2017 Packers RB Stats
Dynamic Playcalling Duo?
Not knowing who will be the primary back heading into 2018 is a good problem to have if you are the Packers but it makes things tough for potential fantasy owners this season. It’s important to consider that Green Bay has revamped their coaching staff including bringing back offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. The former Dolphins head coach did not call plays in his last stint as offensive coordinator with the Packers but he did have a major influence on what plays were called and when. In fact, former Packers GM Ted Thompson said Philbin and Mike McCarthy called plays together.
With the duo of Philbin and McCarthy, Green Bay’s offense was among the best in the NFL. The Packers reached the playoffs in four of those five seasons, reached the NFC Championship game twice and won the Super Bowl in 2010.
To compare what the Packers offense could look like in 2018, we should look at Philbin’s final year as OC in 2011, the Packers set a franchise record in points scored, total yards, touchdowns and passing touchdowns. They finished the season 15-1 record and Aaron Rodgers won his first MVP award.
The Packers ran the ball 39.43% of the time which was 7th least in the NFL, but they did run for over 100 yards a game on nearly 25 carries for 4.1 yards per carry. Ryan Grant and James Starks both split carries rushing for 559 and 578 respectively. We can expect that Green Bay will be splitting carries this season among three backs instead of two.
The Packers will likely start David Bakhtiari at LT, Lane Taylor at LG, Corey Linsley at C, Justin McCray at RG, and Bryan Bulaga at RT if healthy for the majority of the 2018 campaign. Bakhtiari was ranked the best offensive tackle in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus last season. Linsley was the 17th best run blocker and Bulaga is a pro bowl level talent if healthy. Packers running backs shouldn’t have immediate issues with running lanes in 2018.
With Williams and Jones there to share touches, it’s tough to invest a ton of theoretical fantasy stock into Montgomery heading into your 2018 Fantasy Draft. However, if there is any of the three Packers backs that is worth a mid-late round flyer it is Montgomery and I have three reasons to support this notion.
Reason 1: He’s already bigger and stronger than last year
Last season, Montgomery worked with Adrian Peterson to refine his skills as a running back. This year, Montgomery knows he needs to be more durable so he stayed with Packers strength and conditioning coordinator Mark Lovat. “He’s been there every day, too,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said recently. “I know Mark Lovat is excited about where he is. I think you’ll see a bigger, stronger Ty Montgomery this year.”
Reason 2: It’s a contract year
Montgomery’s four-year, $2.9M rookie contract is set to expire after this season and Montgomery will be playing for his first veteran deal in the NFL and whether it be with Green Bay or another franchise, Montgomery is playing for his financial future.
Reason 3: Pass Protection
Coming off of the 2016 season, Montgomery focused on improving his pass protection. Former Packers RB Brandon Jackson was at one time the highest ranked pass-protecting running back in the NFL and spent June 2017 helping Montgomery improve. In 2017 he was stellar, which means Montgomery has a leg up on the other two young backs. If Montgomery plays on passing downs it will mean more opportunity to catch passes and more snaps in general. His versatility makes him viable.
Montgomery’s current ADP is 6.12 in 12-team standard drafts via Fantasy Football Calculator. According to Fantasy Pros, Montgomery is the #36 overall running back being taken and is going later in PPR drafts at #41, which should be the opposite.
I currently have Montgomery ranked #30 in my standard RB rankings. While I do not think you should reach for Montgomery at this point I think he has the highest ceiling of any Packers’ running back heading into 2018.