1 Vs 1 RB Edition: Ty Montgomery Vs Spencer Ware
In this series I'm going to compare two similarly ranked and drafted running backs putting them up against each other, and comparing them in a variety of categories such as 2016 stats, quality of offensive line, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, teams time of possession, percentage of rushing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. In this edition I'm going to compare two very polarizing young runningbacks in Ty Montgomery and Spencer Ware. Heading into the 2016 season nobody expected either of these two players to emerge as their teams lead backs, especially considering that Montgomery was playing wide receiver for roughly half of last year. But that's exactly how things played out, and despite both teams addressing the runningback position in this years draft, Montgomery and Ware both sat atop of their teams respective depth charts heading into the 2017 season.
Both players had very respectable 2016 seasons considering that one of them played the first of half the season as the fourth wide receiver in Green Bay, and the other started the preseason as the fourth runningback on Kansas City's depth chart, behind Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West, and Knile Davis. Montgomery only rushed 77 times last season but still managed 457 yards and 3 touchdowns thanks to an impressive 5.9 yards per carry average. He added 44 receptions for 348 yards on 56 targets averaging 7.9 yards per reception, unfortunately he didn't have any receiving touchdowns. Ware had a fantastic first season as a starter playing in 14 games and rushing for 921 yards on 214 carries, scoring 3 touchdowns while averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Ware was a significant part of the Kansas City passing attack catching 33 passes for 447 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on his 42 targets averaging 13.5 yards per reception last year. For their 2016 seasons PFF gave Montgomery an 81.2 grade which was 12th overall among runningbacks, and Ware graded out as the 19th runningback with a 77.2 grade. I have these two ranked right beside each other in my dynasty runningback rankings with Ware at 23 just edging out Montgomery who is my 24th overall RB. Advantage: Ware
A big part of running back success is tied to the quality of a teams offensive line, as we have seen time and time again a mid level running back with a top tier offensive line can have comparable stats with a much better running back with a questionable offensive line. Another contributing factor to overall runningback success is individual teams game scripts in regards to passing versus rushing as well as teams average time of possession. Montgomery has a distinct advantage when it comes to the quality of offensive lines, with Green Bay finishing the season ranked as the 5th overall O-line in 2016, and are projected to be the 8th ranked offensive line in 2017. Kansas City's O-line was middle of the pack last year finishing the season as the 14th ranked offensive line, they are expected to be similar in 2017 as they are projected to be the 15th overall offensive line. Green Bay was near the bottom of the league in rushing percentage last season, due mostly to an ineffective run game for parts of the year, the Packers only rushed on 35.3% of offensive plays, but did however possess the ball for 31:04 per game. I do anticipate the rushing attempts to go up for Green Bay and the run game to improve as a whole, with Montgomery having an entire off season to prepare as a runningback combined with the Packers drafting three runningbacks in this years draft. The Chiefs ran the ball on 41.0% of offensive plays last season, possessing the ball on on average 29:41 per game, thankfully for the KC runningbacks quarterback Alex Smith throws a ton of short passes and dump offs to his runningbacks, which means a lot of PPR points for the Kansas City back field. Advantage: Montgomery
When it comes to age, measurables, combine results, and draft pedigree, these two have some glaring differences which makes sense considering one of them was drafted as a wide receiver. Montgomery is just over a year younger than Ware at 24 years old compared to Ware who is 25 and turns 26 during the 2017 season. Ware has the more traditional runningback build at 5'10 229 pounds, whereas Montgomery has more of a wide receiver frame being listed at 6'0 215 pounds. Montgomery had an impressive combine running a 4.55 40, putting up an 121 inch broad jump, and a ridiculous 40.5 inch vertical, beating Ware in all events. Ware missed the combine due to a hamstring injury and worked out at his pro day running a 4.62, 40 yard dash, posting a 119 inch broad jump, and a 35.5 inch vertical. I know none of those numbers jump off the page at you, but considering he weighed over 230 pounds at the time and was coming off of a nagging hamstring injury those are pretty impressive combine results in there own right. The advantage in draft pedigree decisively goes to Montgomery as he was drafted exactly 100 picks before Spencer Ware was, being selected with the 30th pick of the 3rd round of the 2015 draft Montgomery was the 94th overall selection. Ware was drafted two years prior to Montgomery as he was picked in the 2013 NFL draft being selected with the 26th pick of the 6th round, 194th overall, which has proven to be an incredible draft value. Advantage: Montgomery
Both runningbacks played similar snaps in 2016 with the edge going to Ware, as he played 588 snaps 37 in pass protection, grading 43.1 in those pass blocking snaps. Montgomery played 507 snaps but likely would have exceeded 600 snaps if he had played the entire season as a runnungback, in those 507 snaps he was asked to pass protect 59 times, and despite Aaron Rodgers kicking Montgomery off the field and berating him for his pass protection skills he still graded out with a decent 64.6 grade according to PFF. Both runningbacks have similar depth chart competition, the most likely candidate to cut into Ware's touches in Kansas City is 3rd round rookie Kareem Hunt, behind Hunt the Chiefs only have Charcandrick West. Green Bay has three rookies directly behind Montgomery on their depth chart in 4th rounder Jamaal Williams, 5th round pick Aaron Jones as well as 7th rounder Devante Mays. Any of those rookies I listed on either depth chart are capable of taking over the starting runningback job for their team under the right circumstances, meaning neither Ware or Montgomery job's are safe if they falter or get injured early on and any of the rookies show starter potential. Advantage: Tie
This was a very close comparison, and as I alluded to earlier I have these two ranked side by side in my runningback rankings. I am however giving the win to Ty Montgomery, there were several factors that went into consideration in this close decision. I will take the runningback on an Aaron Rodgers led offense over the runningback on an Alex Smith led offense any day, also if I were to pick any of the rookie runningbacks on either teams depth chart to win the starting job early in the season in would be Kareem Hunt, who the Chiefs traded up to get in the 3rd round and is a perfect fit for an Andy Read offense. Plus I believe with an entire offseason to prepare and train as a runningback that Montgomery is going to be a force behind that dominant Green Bay offensive line, and being a former wide receiver there is no doubt he is capable of catching passes and playing a true three down role. Winner: Ty Montgomery