Welcome to Sophomore Projections: Dameon Pierce! Now that the 2022 season is over, it’s time to turn right back to drafting for next season. The period between the Super Bowl and free agency is the most volatile as teams and roles are not complete until players sign and rookies are drafted in the new league year.
Which rising sophomores are expected to see role decreases and fall in value or see role increases and rise in value after the new league year starts? Find out in this series, projecting the studs and duds in their sophomore years.
Rookie Year Player Breakdown
As a rookie, Dameon Pierce burst onto the scene with 939 rush yards in 13 games played. Houston had little competition for Pierce in the backfield, and he took advantage, breaching 100 total yards in six of his first nine games. Opportunity was his biggest friend, getting a 73.8-percent (No. 6) Opportunity Share and achieving a 26.6-percent (No. 10) Dominator Rating.
While he had the opportunity to be a big part of the Texans’ offense, Pierce finished with 4.0 (No. 47) True Yards Per Carry and 0.64 (No. 67) Fantasy Points Per Opportunity. Some of Pierce’s lower efficiency can be attributed to Houston’s struggling offense. While he was a big part of the offense, the offense overall had limited scoring chances and efficiency.
Future Role & Production
Next season, Houston will have a new head coach and potentially a new quarterback at the helm. The offense will take some time to improve, so expect more of the struggling scoring offense. Pierce in a starting role will continue to get a chunk of this offense. However, the Texans could look to add to the backfield, taking some of that opportunity away.
As a rookie, Pierce saw a 9.4-percent (No. 23) Target Share. Rex Burkhead saw a 9.9-percent (No. 20) Target Share. Pierce saw more receiving work later on in the season while Burkhead began the season as the primary route runner out of the backfield. While Pierce can expand on that receiving role, expect Houston to add at least a receiving back to what is a sparse backfield. Whether the starting QB is Davis Mills or a rookie, Pierce is slated to be Houston’s primary back. Expect him to get the bulk of the carries, but not as much of the receiving work with limited scoring chances in Houston’s offense.
Dameon Pierce is better suited for your fantasy teams in the short term rather than the long term. In KeepTradeCut‘s SuperFlex Dynasty values, Pierce ranks in a tier with Marquise Brown and J.K. Dobbins, below the value of a 2024 late 1st. He is valued around several receivers like Brown, Christian Kirk, and Terry McLaurin, all of whom you should take over Pierce if you are looking to compete in the long term. Good receivers produce for a while, but RBs, especially those with lower draft capital like Pierce, are replaced quickly.
For redraft and best ball leagues, Pierce is still a good RB2 play. He finished in that range on a points-per-game basis last season and will be in that range this season, expecting a similar usage. However, don’t expect his peak every week. David Montgomery-like production is what you will get from him. Be cautious of the new backfield competition Pierce will see, but confident that he will be productive in seasonal leagues.