After a solid start to the season, Detroit Lions running back David Montgomery is a question mark for the next few weeks following an early exit on Sunday. Montgomery went down early in the fourth quarter of the Lion's 37-31 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday with what the team is saying is a bruised thigh.
Per Adam Schefter, Montgomery told reporters after the game that it would take him “a couple of weeks” until he is back to 100%. The Lions running back is listed as Questionable for Detroit's Week 3 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, but these earlier indicators seem to suggest that Montgomery will not be good to go this upcoming Sunday.
This injury provides an interesting development not only for the Detroit Lions backfield but also for fantasy football managers. Montgomery received the overwhelming majority of rushing attempts in Detroit's first two games, tallying 37 carries to just 14 carries for rookie first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs. Despite his heavy workload, Montgomery was hardly efficient, averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt. His two rushing touchdowns helped buoy his fantasy football value, but the former Chicago Bear also had just one catch out of the backfield.
Jahmyr Gibbs will be the primary beneficiary in Montgomery's absence. Much of Gibbs' early season work came in the passing game, as he hauled in seven catches for 39 yards in the loss to the Seahawks. The Seattle defense largely bottled him up on the ground, holding Gibbs to just 17 yards on seven carries, but the rookie averaged 6.0 yards/carry in his debut against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Gibbs jumped from nine touches against KC to 14 touches against Seattle, and that number should only continue to rise against the Falcons in Week 3 as the primary back with minimal competition. Third-stringer Craig Reynolds has three carries and a catch so far while playing seven percent of offensive snaps.
The biggest question about Gibbs is whether he can still be efficient while seeing a huge increase in his workload. Can he be a guy who can carry the ball 20 times a game like Montgomery, taking the pain and punishment that comes with it? Also, will Detroit look to throw the ball more given Gibbs' talent as a receiver?
Detroit quarterback Jared Goff threw the ball 35 times in Week 1 and repeated the same number of attempts in Week 2 — putting the Lions 11th among NFL teams in pass attempts. Without a true third option in the backfield, a higher reliance on the passing attack seems like the likeliest option.
Amon-Ra St. Brown has been the clear number-one target for Goff, earning a team-high 16 targets this year while hauling in 12 catches for 173 yards. Number two wideout Josh Reynolds has been almost as good with nine catches for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both players will be prime candidates for an increase in targets but don't overlook tight end Sam LaPorta.
The rookie had five catches in each of his first two games for Detroit and his 10 receptions are good for second on the team. He is quickly becoming a dependable early-down option for Jared Goff and the trust between the two will only grow as the season goes on.
With running back David Montgomery likely out (or at least less than 100%) this weekend, rookie Jahmyr Gibbs is the clear fantasy football beneficiary in the Lions backfield, but don't overlook the benefits for the Detroit receivers as well.