2022 Fantasy Football Outlook: Dameon Pierce

Dameon Pierce Fantasy Football

Drafting running backs early is a dangerous gamble in fantasy football. While a workhorse running back like Jonathan Taylor or Christian McCaffrey can win you a league if all goes well, the position is prone to injury and a bad first-round pick can ruin your season. With that in mind, some drafters decide to load up on other positions and target running backs later in the draft. This year, Houston Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce is one of the most popular late-round running backs in fantasy football.

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Dameon Pierce 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook

Dameon Pierce the Player

Fantasy football drafters like Dameon Pierce primarily because of his situation, but it’s important to note that you need to be a decent NFL player in order to capitalize on a good situation. Pierce is a rookie and hasn’t faced any meaningful NFL competition (preseason doesn’t count), so we’ll need to take a look at his prospect profile to see how he projects at the next level.

Dameon Pierce was a Day 3 pick, selected with the second pick in the fourth round. While most Day 3 picks struggle to amount to anything in the NFL, the fact that Pierce was so close to the third round gives him better odds of success than someone drafted in the late seventh. As far as his actual production goes, Pierce finished his collegiate career with a 41st percentile dominator ranking, but only a 28th percentile target share.

At 5′-10″ and 224 pounds, Pierce is built like a truck and can plow through the middle to pick up those hard-earned yards. However, he lacks breakaway speed and doesn’t have the lateral agility to make guys miss in the open field. Based on this assessment, Pierce looks like a Chris Carson or LeGarrette Blount type of player – a big, bruising early-down running back that won’t catch too many passes or break off too many long runs. Players like this can find paths to fantasy relevance, but they need to have the right situation. The question now becomes: does Houston provide that opportunity?

The Houston Texans Backfield

As of this posting, the three biggest players in Houston’s backfield are expected to be Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, and Pierce. Mack has a history of being a league-average starter, but hardly saw the field last year thanks to the emergence of Jonathan Taylor. Additionally, the former Indianapolis Colt tore his Achilles in 2020, and it’s anyone’s guess if he can ever return to his pre-injury form. Burkhead, meanwhile, is at his best as a change of pace back and probably won’t see the field too much unless it’s a clear passing situation.

In reality, all Pierce needs to do to earn playing time is beat out present-day Marlon Mack. That shouldn’t be too hard to do, and he could very well earn the starting job by October. However, how valuable is Houston’s starting running back? While Davis Mills showed some promise as a rookie, the Houston Texans have a terrible team, and the offense won’t find the endzone all that often. When factoring in that Pierce probably won’t catch too many passes, it’s hard to see him putting up too high of a finish.

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Looking at historical precedence, 2022 Dameon Pierce looks a lot like 2021 Michael Carter. Like Pierce, Carter was an early fourth-round pick that landed in an empty backfield on a terrible offense. While Carter was a better pass-catcher and wasn’t quite as big as Pierce, both players had a similar path to playing time. Carter earned the starting job in Week 3 and finished the season as the RB32 on a per-game basis. Pierce will likely have a similar season, except with a few more touchdowns and fewer receptions.