What happened in Chicago’s season opener took everyone by surprise, but it’s looking more and more as a one-game fluke. While David Montgomery entered the season as probably the best runner in the Bears backfield, he was just a rookie fighting for opportunities with veterans Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis. It showed. Montgomery finished the Week 1 game playing only in 28 snaps to Cohen’s 51 and Davis’ 41.
Things changed for the better in Week 2 (23/27/15 snaps), and in Week 3 Montgomery finally turned into the leader of Chicago’s running back corps (44/32/1 snaps), with Mike Davis almost benched the full game. It has taken time, but it looks like this is becoming Montgomery’s backfield to lose. Don’t even rule out a potential bell-cow role in a few weeks, with Tarik Cohen featuring on the slot more than in the back so far and almost exclusively on pass-catching duties.
Although they underused Montgomery in Week 1, Chicago has finally come to their senses. Montgomery is the best back on the Bears, full stop. In his last two games, Montgomery has rushed for 60 or more yards, scored a touchdown and raised his yards per carry to 4.0 on average. Through three games, he has racked up 147 yards on 37 rush attempts, to go with 47 yards on five receptions. Tarik Cohen’s new role as a slot-receiver is not making him look any good on high volume (he’s been targeted more times than any other player except WR Allen Robinson), as he’s only got 82 yards on 12 receptions. What that new role has opened is a huge door to David Montgomery on the run-game. Just as a note, Montgomery has been the one tasked with carrying the ball in all of Chicago’s goal-line attempts (six of them).
Fantasy Impact: Both the Vikings and Bears have an important game this weekend, as they can move to a 3-1 record to keep up with the Packers. Although not the best at it, Minnesota’s defense ranks above-average at defending the run by DVOA (8th) and only gave up 11 and 12 fantasy points to Atlanta and Oakland in Weeks 1 and 3. Green Bay exploited them, though, to the tune of 38 fantasy points by their running backs. The fact that another rookie, Josh Jacobs, was limited to 4.4 points last weekend by Minnesota is a little concerning. Even more is the fact that the expected points total of the game sits at a paltry 38, with Chicago at 20.25 implied, and how the Bears offense has looked so far under Mitchell Trubisky (don’t get fooled by Washington’s game). Was it on me, I’d pass on Montgomery for at least another week until he settles in the leading role and has a much better matchup in Oakland.