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Second-Year Scouting Report: Dameon Pierce

NFL Fantasy

We are now just 44 days away from the start of the 2023 NFL season. On Thursday, Sept. 7, we will all be enjoying the Thursday night kickoff matchup between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs.

Best ball season is in full swing, and redraft leagues preparations have begun. As more and more fantasy managers begin drafting, this year’s rookies start to gain momentum. As the rookies gain attention, the sophomore class from last season will start to become overshadowed. Taking advantage of the prioritization of rookies over established veterans is a great edge to attack in fantasy drafts, especially when it comes to second-year players. These players often take huge strides during their second NFL season, building on their full season of NFL experience and development. 


We continue our second-year scouting report series today with Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce. The fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft enjoyed a strong rookie season for Houston, finishing the year with six games of 100 total yards or more. This article will provide an overview of Dameon Pierce and how you should view him for redraft and dynasty leagues this season.

Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans

It was unknown exactly how much of a role Dameon Pierce would play as a rookie, entering the season in competition with veterans Rex Burkhead, Royce Freeman, Marlon Mack and Dare Ogunbowale. However, the Florida product quickly earned 15 carries in just Week 2. His snap share grew throughout the season and would have easily broken 1000 rushing yards if not for a high-ankle sprain in Week 14. 

What Went Wrong

Not much. A fourth-round pick averaging 72.3 rushing yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry certainly exceeds expectations. Pierce also caught 30 of 39 passes, after totaling just 40 receptions in three years with the Gators. The injury certainly capped his ceiling, but most fantasy drafters will remember the explosive performances Pierce posted on a struggling Houston offense. 

What Went Right

When compared to other rookie running backs, Pierce’s 2022 season looks even better. Breece Hall was fantastic but saw his season end in Week 7 with a torn ACL. Kenneth Walker posted 1,050 yards but resided in a playoff-caliber Seattle offense with far superior quarterback play. James Cook and Rachaad White flashed but were ultimately limited by timeshare backfields. 

Pierce was the center of the Texans offense. Per our FTN Utilization Tool, he accumulated 74% of the team’s carries and a whopping 80% of the Houston rushing yards. That 80% mark was the highest among all NFL running backs, finishing significantly ahead of Joe Mixon (64%), Nick Chubb (61%) and Saquon Barkley (54%). While the Texans 3-13-1 season illustrated significant struggles, Pierce was one of Houston clear bright spots. 


Prognosis Entering 2023

Fantasy drafters are leery of backing Pierce in 2023, especially with Houston’s signing of running back Devin Singletary. The versatile former Buffalo rusher has run for 775 or more yards in all four NFL seasons, with 38 or more receptions in the last three campaigns. Still only 25 years old, Singletary represents a much larger threat to Pierce’s touches than any running back from last season. 

Even if Pierce’s workload dips, his efficiency should rise in a completely revamped Texans offense. Houston has rebuilt their coaching staff with first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans and new offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik. With rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud under center, I project this Texans offense to skew run-heavy in Year 1. While Pierce’s metrics do not place him among the NFL’s most athletic running backs, his consistent rookie-year production will keep his 2023 floor incredibly high. 

Dynasty Outlook

In dynasty/long-term fantasy leagues, Dameon Pierce is a tricky projection. Will Houston commit to his volume over the next few years, or will his limited athletic profile push him to journeyman status? The Texans reside in an AFC South division with an improved Jacksonville roster, and the annual challenge of Derrick Henry and the Titans. The dynasty projection for the entire Houston team is on the rise, but questions remain whether Pierce will be the long-term answer at a position the NFL now values less than ever. I am optimistic on Pierce’s 2023 fantasy value but would draw pause at investing in him as a long-term dynasty asset. 

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