• The Case for and Against Texans RB Dameon Pierce

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    Dameon Pierce, the new RB1 for the Houston Texans, is the talk of the town. Let's bring up this argument in Debate Club.


    The Case For:

    by Will Weiss (@FF_SkinnyChef)

    Dameon Pierce has an opportunity most backs drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft only dream of — to be a starter on an NFL team their rookie season.  The biggest question is, does that really matter when you’re playing behind a bad offensive like the Houston Texans?  The short answer is yes.

    Opportunity is king in fantasy football, and head coach Lovie Smith is exactly the coach you want. Smith’s RB1 averaged 274 carries in a season, excluding only a few seasons due to injury.

    Just on Houston’s paltry YPC of 3.4 last season, Pierce would have finished with the 10th most rushing yards on the season. That's great. However, in modern fantasy football, you need more than just yards to be a top back.

    Today's top fantasy running backs catch passes too. Pierce was very good as a pass catcher in Florida, averaging 9.2 yards per catch and finishing his career with five TDs on 45 receptions. He got better every season as a pass catcher in college, finishing his senior season with an 11.6ypc average.

    Luckily for Pierce, Smith’s running backs catch passes too. In his nine seasons as head coach of the Bears, Smith’s top pass-catching RB had less than 44 catches. Typically, his backs saw over 50 catches. In one season, Smith even had a fullback catch 38 passes.

    This offseason, the Texans signed veteran backs Marlon Mack and Dare Ogubowale. The expectation from most beat writers was Mack would be the starter. That news suppressed Pierce’s value, along with fears of time share.

    All of those fears were quelled recently when the Texans released Marlon Mack. This leaves only Dameon Pierce, Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale, and Royce Freeman as the team's backfield. Other than Pierce, none of those profile as a typical back that Lovie Smith uses. We've seen both Freeman and Ogunbowale as lead-backs before, and there was nothing impressive from them.

    The Case Against:

    by Michael Sicoli (@Michael__Sicoli)

    Dameon Pierce is a tremendous value — if you drafted him last month or in your rookie draft back in May. But today, he’s the biggest sell in dynasty fantasy football.

    For the most part, there’s a reason why running backs are taken on day three. They tend not to be great prospects, and Pierce falls into that category for me. The year he commanded just 107 carries was a career-high for the Florida product. Pierce wasn’t really on the draft radar prior to the Senior Bowl.

    But scouting prospects can overlook players. Pierce had a strong summer and is set to be the RB1 for the Texans. However, that’s not a lock to mean much. Of the top-24 RBs in PPG for 2021, only two — D’Andre Swift (RB11) and James Robinson (RB23) — were on teams with five wins or less. Houston’s win total stands at 4.5.

    But that’s not entirely fair. Bad teams can support fantasy RBs, to an extent. Since 2019, there have been 23 teams with seasons of five wins or fewer. Of that bunch, four finished in the top 12 and nine others finished inside the top 24.

    Pierce is a good bet to do just that — be an RB2, nothing more. Three of the four RBs who finished in the top-12 in PPG were also top-10 in touches per game. The exception is Swift in 2021, who finished third in receptions per game.

    The Florida product needs to be a bell-cow RB or a terrific receiver to have top upside. Otherwise, Pierce is being drafted close to his ceiling and is not one to command a heavy carry total. He isn’t likely to do so effectively anyway with Houston’s game scripts and offensive line. Pierce is not a particularly exciting receiver, either.

    Pierce can be an RB2 and a helpful part of your redraft team. However, the Texans will likely replace him next off-season with one of the plethora of draft picks they have. Not to mention free agency. The same happened with Chris Carson, Phillip Lindsay, and Robinson because NFL teams aren’t invested in day three players.

    Pierce’s ADP is surging to the RB2 range, leaving little room for error. Don’t make the mistake of reaching for him. Pierce can be solid for redraft but sell high for a 2023 first in all dynasty circumstances.


    Thank you for checking out our article! You can read all of Will Weiss and Michael Sicoli's content on their IDP Guys’ author pages. Be sure to follow their on Twitters at @FF_SkinnyChef and @Michael__Sicoli, and @IDPGuys (we have offense too). Please check out our website at idpguys.org!

    Michael Sicoli

    A dynasty enthusiast and fantasy football addict, there's not much more I'd prefer to write about. I'm a New Yorker at a Connecticut university -- Quinnipiac -- who's a firm believer that the NFL doesn't have an offseason.

    Discussion

    1. […] Thanks for checking out my NFL Rookies article! If you want to hear more about Dameon Pierce, check out ” The Case for and Against Texans RB Dameon Pierce.”  […]

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