RB - HOU
(5/29) UPDATE- After hearing new head coach DeMeco Ryans talk about how he is planning to handle the Houston RBs I am lowering my expectations for Pierce. Ryans said he believes in going with a RBBC approach. Oh good. Another RBBC mess- ugh!! That's extremely disappointing to hear. Even though I think Pierce is clearly a superb RB to Singletary and should be a bell cow, it doesn't matter what I, Mark Ringo, think. It only matters what DeMeco Ryans thinks. If the world would do what Mark Ringo thinks, it would be a thousand times better haha! Of course, I might be slightly biased on that take haha!
Despite having 66% of the RB rushing attempts from the Texans, Pierce only finished as the RB-27 last season. This year the team brought in veteran RB Devin Singletary to take over the change of pace role and potentially take some work away from the fourth-round 2021 draft pick. As a result, his lack of pass-catching paired with a rookie QB under center and I am skeptical that he can finish higher than last season's finish.
5/5: With only Devin Singletary added this offseason, Pierce has a clear path to remaining the lead back in what promises to be a more explosive Texans' attack. Stir in a 49ers-inspired zone-scheme, and Pierce's upside & value boost is going largely overlooked
The Houston Texans looked like they struck gold with Dameon Pierce early on during the season, as the rookie running back looked like the early favorite to take home offensive rookie of the year honors with a hot start. Pierce stepped in and immediately became the team's bellcow in Week 2. From that time until Week 10, Pierce ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing yards (739) averaging north of 19 carries and 92 rushing yards per game. He was the fantasy RB12 overall and in points per game. Other Texans RBs combined for just 11 carries versus Pierce's 154 over this stretch. However, the Florida product seemed to have hit a wall in the middle of the year totaling just 16 rushing yards against Washington and Miami through Weeks 11-12. However, these two defenses would turn out to be some of the tougher matchups for all RBs, so that's likely the cause of Pierce's fall-off in production. The tackle-breaking machine more than proved that he still had juice left in the tank with two strong outings to conclude his season versus Dallas and Cleveland. However, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury that would knock him out for the rest of the season - just 61 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards on the year. Despite the missed games, he still finished 4th in missed tackles forced and 1st in missed tackles forced per attempt (28%) among RBs with at least 100 carries. Pierce should lead the Texans backfield in 2023, but an entirely new coaching staff and Pierce's 4th-round draft capital suggest that his undisputed workhorse role could change. Devin Singletary signed a one-year deal worth $3.75 million with the Texans, presumably to fill the role of Pierce's primary backup. Singletary totaled just nine more carries than James Cook from Weeks 13-Week 20 but ended the year 10th in PFF rushing grade (two spots ahead of Pierce).
Overall, Singletary probably won't unseat Pierce as the team's No. 1 rusher, but he poses a much bigger threat to Pierce's workload than JAGs like Rex Burkhead, Mike Boone, and Dare Ogunbowale. His PFF pass-blocking grade (73.2, 8th) might get him usage on passing downs as Pierce struggled in this capacity as a rookie (32.3, 52nd). Although it does work in Pierce's favor that Singletary has never flourished as an actual receiver, giving Pierce the slight edge on attaining a full three-down workload if he can shore up his pass protection in Year 2.
Singletary's addition shouldn't completely change the way you view Pierce as it was highly unlikely the team would add zero running backs between now and the start of the season. He's not the worst running back they could have added, but he's hardly a reason to fully fade Pierce for fear that Singletary will carve out a massive role on offense.
Pierce had his rookie season cut short by an ankle injury, but he was very good in the fantasy season with 939 yards rushing, 165 yards receiving, and 5 TDs. Devin Singletary hurts his upside a little bit, but his contract does not indicate they view him as their new lead back. Pierce should still see more than enough touches to be a RB2.
(23) Great rookie season, but he will have more touch competition this season.