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David Montgomery Injury Update: Will he be an RB1 or an RB2 when he returns?

When David Montgomery returns from injury, will the ascending Khalil Herbert cap his ceiling? Or can Montgomery return to RB1 glory?

When David Montgomery went down with a knee injury in Week 4, it was a major blow to a Chicago Bears franchise that has had only one winning season since 2013. Without Montgomery, there was concern the team would take a major step back. Instead, they have found a new hero in backup running back Khalil Herbert. Now, fantasy football managers are facing questions. When might Montgomery return to the field, and will he be restored as the Bears’ unquestionable bell cow?

What is David Montgomery’s Injury Outlook?

Montgomery injured his knee in Week 4. At first, some feared it was a torn ACL. Instead, it turned out to be a sprain. The original prognosis offered a 4-5 week recovery period. That would have put him back in uniform as early as today. Clearly, that did not happen. Next week, Chicago travels to Pittsburgh before heading on a Week 10 bye.

As my colleague Jason Katz pointed out a few weeks ago, “we can reasonably project [Chicago] to hold Montgomery out through then to give him that extra week of rest and have him ready to go in Week 11.” With Herbert stepping up in Montgomery’s absence, Katz’s original outlook holds up well.

The Bears have a brutal post-bye schedule that includes the Ravens, Cardinals, Packers, and Vikings (twice), not to mention a likely Russell Wilson-led Seahawks squad. Their best shot at the postseason entails having Montgomery healthy and active.

What is David Montgomery’s Fantasy Outlook?

Montgomery’s fantasy value continues to grow murkier. On one hand, Herbert won’t displace him atop the depth chart. That’s simply not in the cards — unless Montgomery’s injury somehow lingers and hampers him. But there should be some concern among fantasy managers that Montgomery won’t enjoy the 18-20 touches per game we’ve grown accustomed to.

In fact, the biggest concern was highlighted before his injury, as Montgomery caught only 6 balls on a mere 9 targets in his first four games. That was a far cry from last year’s 54 catches on 68 targets in 15 games. Damien Williams (8 receptions on 10 targets through Week 4) could be blamed for cutting into Montgomery’s aerial usage. Montgomery benefited last year when the reception-friendly Tarik Cohen missed most of the season. In hindsight, it’s easy to see why Williams cut into Montgomery’s ceiling.

Related | Week 9 Fantasy Football Flex Rankings: Are Zack Moss and Khalil Herbert options to trust?

Now, with Herbert clearly taking over as the Bears’ short-term bell cow, we should assume it’s Herbert – not Williams — who will inherit a complementary role when Montgomery returns. The biggest question, then, is whether Herbert will earn a bigger usage share than Williams did earlier this season. The rookie has looked the part, and it’s hard to imagine Chicago giving him only a few touches a game.

If you’ve been rostering Montgomery all this time, there’s no choice but to wait and hope he gets his bell-cow job back — not 14-16 touches, but 20+, including 2-3 receptions per game. Because that’s often the difference between an RB2 and an RB1.

BJ Rudell is the Fantasy Football Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of BJ’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @BJRudell.

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