Dameon Pierce used to be just a fantasy football hipster pick. That’s no longer the case today, as the Houston Texans rookie has become among the top rushing mainstream targets for those looking to add a break-out candidate to their roster in the 2022 NFL season, at least from a fantasy football perspective. With that said, let’s dig a little deeper into the fantasy outlook of Dameon Pierce, who was drafted in the fourth round (107th overall) by the Houston Texans in the 2022 NFL Draft, for the upcoming NFL campaign.
Dameon Pierce 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook
The Texans are not going to be an offensive juggernaut in 2022 just like they were in 2021 when they finished near the bottom of major offensive statistical departments. But that futility also means a major opportunity for Pierce to get a bunch of touches. It’s not hard to imagine the Texans trailing on the scoreboard most of the time this year, which would lead to negative game scripts, and negative game scripts will always not appeal to running backs and their weekly fantasy value. But in the case of Pierce, that is a pill that owners can swallow in exchange for his still-promising fantasy football equity which is heavily based on volume.
If you added a Houston running back to your team last season, that was a desperate attempt to get a body to fill one of your roster spots. Rex Burkhead was the Texans’ top weapon on the ground in 2021 and all he mustered was a mere total of 427 rushing yards. David Johnson came in second with 228 rushing yards. Royce Freeman was third among Texans running backs with 92 rushing yards. It was just a sad state not only for the Texans’ rushing attack but for the team’s offense overall. In 2021, Houston bled for just 16.5 points per game and 278.1 total yards per outing. They rushed fewer than 85 yards a game and just 3.4 yards per carry.
Dameon Pierce is not going to completely flip the narrative for Houston’s offense as a rookie, but he should be a much more reliable option in rushing the ball for the Texans than Burkhead. The Texans were also right to let go of Marlon Mack, which takes out the only true obstacle in front of Pierce. With Mack no longer around as well as Royce Freeman and with only a 32-year-old Burkhead as his main competition in the backfield, Pierce should be able to enjoy a ton of touches.
Among the chief concerns that come with Dameon Pierce apart from simply being a player of the Texans is that he doesn’t seem to be so used to being given the opportunities many are expecting him to have in his rookie season in the NFL. Unlike other rookie running backs like Breece Hall of the New York Jets and Kenneth Walker of the Seattle Seahawks, Dameon Pierce never had gotten more than 100 rushing attempts in his last season in college. In his final year with the Florida Gators, Pierce rushed only 100 times. His most in college were 106 in his junior year in Gainesville back in 2020. Can he return great value if he’s given 150+ touches out of the backfield by the Texans? Conversely, one could argue that Pierce’s extremely light workload in college means that his body will have a higher tolerance to the physical punishment he would definitely experience in his first year in the pros.
There is a tantalizing value in Dameon Pierce, who could end up being the best running back in 2022 among his fellow rookie tailbacks. Being on the Texans is a major drawback for him, but when you take into account Houston’s offensive line, perhaps the team’s best asset, a seemingly weak schedule — 19th hardest based on opponents’ winning percentage in 2021 — and the improvement of the offense in Year 2 of Davis Mills, you could really talk yourself into believing that Dameon Pierce should be a higher-tier fantasy football draft target.
Speaking of the Texans’ seemingly favorable schedule, you could plan out which games you could expect Pierce to churn out his most productive outings. Houston will play the Chicago Bears in Week 3 on the road, the Jacksonville Jaguars twice, and the Las Vegas Raiders on the road in Week 7. The Bears and the Jaguars were tied for just 22nd in 2021 against the run, each allowing 125.1 rushing yards per game. The Raiders were also below average in that area with 112.6 rushing yards given up per outing.
The Texans start their season against the Indianapolis Colts at home on Sept. 11 and that will be an excellent test for Pierce, as Indy was solid against the run in 2021.