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Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Dameon Pierce, RB HOU

Will Dameon Pierce take advantage of his opportunity in the Houston backfield?

Dameon Pierce

The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profiles and where they fit.

Name: Dameon Pierce

Position: Running Back

Pro Team: Houston Texans

College Team: University of Florida

Draft Status: Round Four, pick 107

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

COMBINE REVIEW

STRENGTHS

On the surface, Pierce is your prototypical, physical, early-down back found in the league. He has great vision for finding the hole and utilizes a strong burst in said hole. The former Gator is also great at using his size/strength to shed defenders at the point of contact. It’s not often when he’s brought down by the initial tackler.

The trait that has the dynasty community abuzz about the new Texans running back is his ability in the passing game. Pierce runs strong routes and his ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls is impressive for a man of his girth. This body stature does aid the Florida alum when it comes to his pass-protection prowess. He’s able to get leverage and square up his assignment. This is a skill that often keeps talented rookies off the field in passing situations early on in their inaugural seasons. The opposite should happen for Pierce.

WEAKNESSES

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Stats via Sports Reference.

Despite being only an above-average athlete without breakaway speed, you’d think Pierce’s three-down skill set would mean a plethora of touches in college. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened in Gainesville. Sharing touches with Malik David the last two seasons, our hero failed to establish himself as the alpha of the Gator backfield.

The analytics community will ding Pierce for not dominating the market share, but there is a practical silver lining. He enters the league without the mileage on his body we often see from running backs once they leave college.

OPPORTUNITIES

The Houston Texans’ depth chart at running back (outside of Pierce) currently stands at Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale, and Royce Freeman… not quite the Murderers’ Row of talent at the position. The starting job is wide open and there’s no reason to think the rookie back can’t win the job early in the season. The rebuilding Texans will want to see what they have in their fourth-round pick as he should see plenty of touches one way or the other in 2022.

THREATS

Pierce is fortunate to be so skilled at breaking tackles as he’s going to see many defenders at the line of scrimmage this upcoming season – Houston has one of the worst offensive lines in the league. The benefit of being drafted by a bad team is an immediate opportunity; the downfall can be an offense mired in mediocrity. As 4For4 writer Justin Edwards said: the Florida product is in the “best-worst spot for fantasy production.”

SHORT-TERM EXPECTATIONS

If you’re a contending team looking for a flex option with RB2 upside for this upcoming season, Pierce is your guy. I wouldn’t expect him to be a true workhorse, but his particular set of skills should put him on the field in key fantasy situations. Adept at short-yardage and goal-line situations in his senior year (13 touchdowns) at Florida and the strongest back on the roster, the Houston rookie could find himself given the red zone touches.

More importantly, his already strong pass-blocking and route-running is the fantasy holy grail on a bad team. The Texans project to be trailing in most games this upcoming season (win total: O/U 4.5) and those garbage-time dump-offs are PPR gold. Michael Carter finished as RB28 last year thanks in part to 55 targets on a struggling Jets squad. It would not surprise me to see Pierce see more targets (Carter’s teammate Ty Johnson also saw 55) as he’s a better blocker than the North Carolina product.

LONG-TERM EXPECTATIONS

Of course, the flip side of the Carter coin is a lack of future job security. The Jets running back had a solid, yet unspectacular rookie season in 2021. New York gave him enough touches to evaluate his skill… and then took the top-ranked running back in the next year’s class in Breece Hall.

There’s a scenario where Pierce has a fantasy productive RB2 season, but the Houston brass decides he’s not in their future plans at the position. The Texans have 21 total picks in the next two drafts and could use one of those selections on Pierce’s replacement. The new Texan back could be in the unique situation where he’s a one-year rental for dynasty squads with championship aspirations. Of course, there’s a chance Pierce runs away with the job and becomes the franchise RB1 of the organization for the next few years. However, I wouldn’t count on it for the sake of your dynasty squad.

NFL PLAYER COMPARISON

From a statistical analysis perspective, Pierce’s athletic profile most closely resembles that of Spencer Ware. The former Chief was a well-built, yet unspectacular athlete who could be counted on in passing situations. In fact, Ware’s career arch also represents a possible preview for the Houston rookie’s long-term future; he was productive on both the real and faux gridiron (RB17 in 2016) when given an opportunity, but never really established himself as a consistent starting running back in the league (no more than 78 touches outside of 2016).

ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE

According to DLF May Rookie Draft ADP, Pierce is being selected on average at 16th overall and fifth at his position. Rachaad White, John Metchie, and David Bell are being drafted ahead of him while Isaiah Spiller and Wan’Dale Robinson are going after. In superflex leagues, Pierce is coming off the board with the 20th overall selection but he’s the sixth running back selected after Spiller.

The contending status of your dynasty roster will determine whether you want to spend any capital on Pierce. He could offer those GMs with their eyes set on the trophy with PPR top 25 upside for 2022 at a position of scarcity. Those in the middle of a rebuilding project are better off with the potential long-term ceiling, and floors, of Spiller or Robinson.

If Pierce does have a successful rookie campaign, savvy dynasty managers should sell-high on him early in the off-season. The chances of the Texans pulling a move similar to the Jets’ Breece Hall rug-pull on Michael Carter’s value are high.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Dameon Pierce, RB HOU
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Littlewing745
5 months ago

All of this makes sense, and yet I cannot convince myself a guy that couldn’t separate himself all against a 5th year senior is now in great position to do it against NFL talent. Sometimes I think we have to believe that they (don’t) show us.

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