Fantasy Football Stock Watch: Ty Montgomery seizing Mike McCarthy’s trust and lead RB role, now drips in huge RB1 upside

The Wolf dives into Packers' training camp reports to explain why Ty Montgomery has real RB1 upside.

After an offseason of full devotion to becoming a true RB, Ty Montgomery has reportedly distanced himself from the three drafted rookies and seized Green Bay’s lead horse role.  With Mike McCarthy’s full backing, Montgomery now radiates humongous RB1 upside in a fantasy dreamboat situation, with his Usage, Scheme, and Risk scores all seeing positive boosts. He rises from the RB22 all the way up to RB15 (see update), with room to continue ascending.

Updated 8/3 to Reflect news surrounding rookie RB Jamaal Williams (at bottom)

The Value of the Gig

Of course, this is an article about Ty Montgomery.  Indeed, plenty of ink will be spilled on his “full-transformation” into a bonafide beastly RB and mismatch nightmare.  Yes, we’ll talk about his coach’s full endorsement, and how Montgomery appears head and shoulders above the Packers pack of pickled plodders.

But let’s zoom in on why this is so crucial: the value of this RB role.

Green Bay’s backfield is an absolute goldmine.  In fact, his situation drips in so much fantasy potential that I wrote an article way back in February titled Why the Green Bay Packers will Produce a Fantasy RB1… before even knowing who’d be toting the rock.

For all his pass-happy labels, McCarthy actually loves riding a workhorse. As detailed above, he’s produced a bonafide fantasy RB1 in 11 of 17 seasons of play calling. The only six misses were clear lacks of talent, or talent shoveling Chinese food down it’s gullet until it lacked said talent.  When he has had his guy, McCarthy rides him to voluminous rushing and receiving workloads. As detailed here, McCarthy far prefers a three-down horse for numerous reasons:

In McCarthy’s offense, the concept of a three-down back is crucial for different reasons. Not only can three-down running backs perform all of the tasks associated with the position — primarily rushing, receiving and keeping Rodgers clean — but they also can remain in the game during every situation. Without the need to substitute, McCarthy can toy with tempos to torment opposing defenses.

“You want the element of no huddle available to you,” McCarthy said. “You want to be able to turn that on any time you’re in a game, and that’s the way you want to play.

Usage? Big check.

Which is fantastic, because the quality of those touches could not be higher thanks to the absurd Surrounding Talent here.  Number 12 needs no introduction, but just how light Aaron Rodgers keeps boxes is actually staggering: Montgomery faced light defensive fronts an absurd 89.6% of the time.  Yes, this means seven or more men were in the box on less than 10% of Montgomery’s snaps, and he was able to feast for 6.6YPC in said situations.

Additionally, the increased red zone chances go without stating. As long as he maintains the goal line gig, Montgomery should greatly benefit from countless attempts at the stripe. Plus, just being on an offense that sustains drives and dominates time of possession will allow Montgomery to consistently garner touches and emphasize his talents.

Meanwhile, the line is far better in pass-protection than run blocking, but they’re still competent. The light boxes certainly don’t hurt, and Montgomery won’t hurt for rushing lanes.

Overall, this situation is a ripe blend of high-quality Usage, Coaching Scheme, and Surrounding Talent, which create an insanely valuable fantasy profile, even if the Talent wasn’t special. Conveniently enough, however…

Evolving into a Horse RB

Despite switching to an entirely new position midseason and running “on instincts” all season, Montgomery still flashed signs of elite ability: Via Yahoo Noise:

Advanced analytics. Statistically, Monty is indisputably the best option on roster. His 6.7 yards per touch in ’16, which slotted No. 6 among eligible backs, wasn’t the only stat that bulged eyes. Glance at his secondary profile and several tallies are equally spectacular. He ranked top-five among running backs in juke rate (RB3) – he forced 17 missed tackles alone against Chicago Week 15 – yards after contact per attempt (2.8, RB1) and breakaway run percentage (RB2). According to Sharp Football, he was one of three backs (Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Gillislee the others) to rank top-10 in run success percentage, missed yards per attempt and yards above successful percentage (Definitions here).

Additionally, as detailed by Touchdown Wire, PFF Stats revealed Montgomery to be the league’s most elusive back, “and it wasn’t even close.”

“Montgomery had a rating of 116.4, which ranked first by a wide margin thanks largely to 24 missed tackles forced on 106 total touches. Only three backs forced a missed tackle more frequently than Montgomery’s one missed tackle per 4.42 touches rate.

What’s more is that Montgomery led the entire league with a ridiculous 5.14 yards after contact per carry average”

Reminder – this was all amidst a positional switch and instinct-running.

Now, Montgomery has dedicated a full offseason to learning the position’s nuances, and training his body for the right shape.  Just from a sheer visual standpoint, Montgomery has completely jacked up, going from an already sturdy 216 lbs to 224 of sheer muscle.

This added mass will help him withstand the snap-to-snap violence of the position, and allow him to receive far more than the meager 77 carries of 2016. Indeed, he only topped double-digit carries a single time last year, but he’s built for this to change.

Beyond the sheer bulk, Montgomery has also focused on the less-visible, but equally important small details like footwork and positional assignments. As ESPN detailed, Montgomery reportedly spent time in Rischard Whitfield, aka The Footwork King’s, dojoMelvin Gordon similarly trained with Whitfield last offseason, and cites the coach as a major reason for his humongous rebound from a pitiful rookie year to a 997 yards and 10 TDs explosion in only 13 games. Montgomery noted this, adding “I hope to have similar results.”

Montgomery also has been studying film and taking a holistic approach to learning the finesse and assignments behind running the ball:

“I was running on a lot of instincts when I ran the football,” Montgomery said, according to Ryan Wood of “I knew where I was supposed to be going, but it was instincts. Now, I know techniques, I know rotations and linebacker positions and fronts and understanding gap rules and what the defense is supposed to be doing. Now I get out there, I know my reads and my aiming points. I can just add that to my instincts, and I’m excited to do that.”

Despite already posting elite measurables, Montgomery has still gone “all in” at becoming the best possible running back. The added bulk and brains have helped him with…

Seizing the Lead RB Job

After selecting three  running backs in a single draft, many fantasy experts, myself included, were skeptical of McCarthy’s commitment to Montgomery.  If they truly felt comfortable with their converted wideout, why load up so highly at the position?

Perhaps the team didn’t realize just how serious Montgomery was about keeping this job. But the note has clearly been taken:

“He’s just stepped out in front and just keeps going,” McCarthy said of the 24-year-old. “I think he did a really good job of, frankly, he’s been able to focus on the position. Very comfortable, obviously, the understanding and the details of the things he was asked to do to be able to rep those things from day one, obviously, helps him out a lot. Yeah, he looks good. I’m very pleased with the way he has stepped up to the front of the class.

With Montgomery the clear “front of the class” in Green Bay, his role has been gaining much clarity. As detailed at the beginning, he’ll be used voluminously AND creatively in all assets of the game, which should make for a monstrous season.  McCarthy’s comments further confirm this:

The coach even went as far to suggest that Montgomery is so dangerous and versatile that he trails only Rodgers in terms of defensive preparation:

“I think he gives you another dimension,” McCarthy said on Saturday. “We’re always looking for matchups, and Ty definitely is a challenge in the area of matchups. I mean, when the defense sits down and game plans the Green Bay Packers, obviously they’re going to look at No. 12. But I’m sure Ty is a clear second or third that’s part of their conversation of how they’re going to handle him, as far as how we line them up.

“We gotta tailor their assignments and opportunities to their skills, and he’s got the full gamut,” McCarthy said. “He could jump out and play the No. 1 position at the receiver.”

McCarthy, while vehemently addressing the team’s lack of rushing production, has also spoken at length about his burning desire to run the ball more:

“I’ll just say this, and I’m not joking: Running the football is A-No. 1 important in offensive football…Every game I’ve prepared to call in the National Football League, there’s a point in the game where I am determined, I want to run that damn ball. The ability to run the football and stress the defense from a formation and alignment location is crucial. I mean, you have to run the football.” So, I take it you want to run more, sir? 

The only real question mark here, albeit a major one, is Montgomery’s pass protection. Obviously, with Rodgers behind center, this is paramount to a Packers running back maintaining his gig. Montgomery is certainly built well and has the functional strength to thrive here, it’s a simple matter of practice and repetition.

Update:  Apparently this pass-protection issue is a larger concern than originally thought, and has rookie Jamaal Williams, who’s been more talented in this regard, earning first team reps:

Now, Montgomery possesses the superior all-around talent, and pass-protection is highly coachable, especially for someone with Montgomery’s willingness to learn and insatiable work ethic. Still, this does slightly lower Montgomery’s Risk and Usage scores, still landing him in the the  “High-End RB2 with very real RB1 upside” tier, albeit at the lower end.  We still feel he maintains a stranglehold on this gig, and thus will Montgomery will be one of fantasy’s most tantalizing products. Now, however, he makes more of a late 3rd, early 4th pick and falls just below surer volume Marshawn LynchLamar Miller, and Jordan Howard, ultimately landing at RB15.

Is this insanity? Is the Wolf sprouting a way too early Training Camp Boner? Hit him up @RotoStreetWolf and/or sound off below!

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