Should I Draft Jahmyr Gibbs or David Montgomery in Fantasy Football This Year?

The Lions start the season vs. Kansas City -- which of their running backs, Jahmyr Gibbs or David Montgomery, should you pick in fantasy drafts?

The Detroit Lions scored the third-most points in the league last year and had great numbers from their running backs. Third-year back D’Andre Swift averaged 5.5 yards a carry and had 931 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. Fellow back Jamaal Williams didn’t do too shabby either, with 1,139 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns.

But a year later, Swift and Williams are both no longer Lions. The team will now depend on free agent signing David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs to run the backfield. The question is — who should fantasy football managers be drafting between Gibbs and Montgomery this year?

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2023 Fantasy Outlook for Jahmyr Gibbs

Drafted with the 12th overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, there is a lot of anticipation for the Lions’ rookie in the Motor City. Gibbs comes with a successful pedigree out of Alabama, where he was not only a strong runner for the Crimson Tide but also an effective member of the passing game.

Gibbs seems to fit nicely into the D’Andre Swift role in Detroit and there are rumors that the Lions have all sorts of plans for the young back. This may include Gibbs lining up in the slot or out wide and getting reps as a flex wide receiver.

Currently, Gibbs is being drafted as the RB12 in drafts and is going around 32 overall. A late third-round pick in 12 team leagues, managers are excited about Gibbs’ prospects right away in the pros. He’s currently being drafted ahead of Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones, who have combined for five top-12 seasons the last three years.

I am excited about the prospects of Gibbs in 2023. But if you are going to draft him, you will have to be willing to pay up. The price tag is not small as he is one of your first three draft selections. But you have to pay top dollar for top talent. Gibbs may very well be one of those backs in 2023.

2023 Fantasy Outlook for David Montgomery

Leaving Chicago after four seasons, Montgomery signed with the division-rival Lions and will continue to run against NFC North opponents. Montgomery’s first four years in the league were successful and incredibly consistent. He racked up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage every season and scored more than six touchdowns every year.

This kind of consistency should not go unnoticed, especially in Chicago where he played behind some mediocre offensive lines and had few other weapons to take attention away from the run game. Montgomery fits right into the role Jamaal Williams had a year ago.

MORE: 2023 RB Fantasy Football Rankings

While I would never expect 17 touchdowns out of him, there is a good chance for Montgomery to get a majority of goal-line work and to be involved in every offensive game plan.

Currently, Montgomery is being drafted as RB 31 at 78 overall. In 12-team leagues, he is being selected in the middle of the seventh round, so the investment is much lower for managers to get a piece of the Detroit offense with Montgomery.

While the upside isn’t nearly as high, the cost to buy is quite a bit lower. If 2023 plays out similarly to 2022, Montgomery should still get a lot of production in Detroit. But is the lower upside at a cheaper price worth it, or should we be aiming for the home run with Gibbs?

Who Should I Draft in 2023?

I believe both Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery are set to have fabulous seasons in 2023. But for our exercise, we can only pick one of these Lions running backs.

For my money, David Montgomery is one of the best values in your drafts currently. I honestly think he would be worth a sixth-round pick and he is being selected (on average) a whole round later. When he can be selected after you have already grabbed two other running backs and wide receivers, along with a quarterback and a tight end, it is hard to dislike that value.

Gibbs looks like he could be a great talent, but we haven’t seen a moment of it in the NFL yet. Spending one of your first three picks on the rookie feels like a bit of a reach when you can grab a value back like Montgomery four rounds later. I’d much rather grab another top-tier receiver in the third round and find a back like Montgomery in the seventh for my RB2 or flex slot.

Gibbs may be the headliner, but Montgomery is the role back that is going to consistently score me points at a lower cost. For that reason, give me David Montgomery in my drafts.

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