It was pretty clear early this preseason just how much the Houston Texans liked tailback Dameon Pierce. Word out of training camp spread quickly about the rookie’s ability on the rebuilding club.
But in a position group crowded by veterans Marlon Mack, Royce Freeman and Rex Burkhead, it seemed like Pierce had his work cut out for him to make an impact right off the bat.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the fourth-round pick was able to do just that. On Tuesday the Texans cut Mack, essentially making Pierce the team’s RB1.
This had an immediate impact for fantasy managers and bettors alike.
Already the hype around Pierce was palpable.
FantasyPros tracked his averaged draft position across Yahoo and ESPN leagues at No. 89—with Pierce going as high as No. 40 in some drafts—despite being the No. 36 ranked tailback. Tuesday’s roster cuts now have many fantasy analysts projecting Pierce as a top-20 running back this season. For leagues that have already drafted, this is tremendous news for his managers. For those who are waiting to draft until this weekend, the top sleeper on the board is no longer a hidden secret. You can expect Pierce will be on the mind of every manager—especially in dynasty leagues.
Another surprise: Texans are releasing veteran running back Marlon Mack, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 30, 2022
Pierce was also considered a sleeper pick for Rookie of the Year, where he has consensus +1148 odds. That put him behind Kenny Pickett (+789), Breece Hall (+824), Chris Olave (+1000), George Pickens (+1000), Drake London (+1030) and Skyy Moore (+1100). Some books have already started to move lines in Pierce’s favor.
The reality of the situation is this: Pierce is playing in a rather weak AFC South and has a pretty established offensive line blocking ahead of him. While no one expects the Texans to blow out many teams this year—limiting how often they’ll let Pierce kill the clock—Houston certainly doesn’t have the most daunting schedule ahead.
Tankathon ranks the Texans’ schedule at No. 15 overall this year. They’ll get to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (twice), Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders and New York Giants in 2022. And while looking at last year’s team stats isn’t the best predictor of future outcomes, it is notable that the Bears, Giants and Raiders all ranked among the bottom half of the league’s rush defenses in 2021.
Pierce has tons of upside this season. Houston is ready to see how much it can get out him.
Fantasy analysts were thrilled about the Texans naming Pierce RB1
Every fantasy pundit’s reaction about Dameon Pierce post-Marlon Mack cutting. … pic.twitter.com/snox2B7WdP
— Brad Evans (@NoisyHuevos) August 30, 2022
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 30, 2022
dameon pierce roy odds going up https://t.co/Xy0uy2eZw3
— prince j. grimes (@pgprincej) August 30, 2022
Live look at Dameon Pierce: 📈📈📈📈📈 https://t.co/WAqABUcyMB
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 30, 2022
Dameon Pierce ADP 🚀 https://t.co/6kOkNoKZii
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) August 30, 2022
Marlon Mack is cut, which shows how much faith the Texans have in Dameon Pierce
Only thing in his way now is Rex Burkhead in the passing game. Otherwise, guys Top 20 RB
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) August 30, 2022
I, a Dameon Pierce fantasy keeper league owner, will enjoy this lovely victory lap. https://t.co/fFxulZKl6e
— Scott Robertson (@counterscottGO) August 30, 2022
Dameon Pierce is now a projected top 20 RB this season
— Luke Sawhook 🪚🪝 (@lukesawhook) August 30, 2022
It’s very rare for Day 3 rookie RBs to make an impact in fantasy, but especially with Marlon Mack out, Dameon Pierce is well positioned to be the exception.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) August 30, 2022
— Kevin Walsh Jr. (@TheKevinWalsh) August 30, 2022
By the way, @AdamSchefter got the scoop on Marlon Mack being cut. Texans are desperate for a new backup to take some of the load off rookie starter Dameon Pierce.
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) August 30, 2022
My justification for drafting Dameon Pierce 3rd overall in my rookie dynasty draft 👇🏻
Pierce is the clear-cut RB1 in Houston. https://t.co/bzpckp1EDz
— Devon Clements (@DevclemNFL) August 30, 2022
With the Marlon Mack news, here’s another Dameon Pierce nugget.
College RBs w/ a >=27% BT+MT/Att & 3.0 YAC/Att with a min. of 100 carries per @football_sis
Pierce has some intriguing underlying metrics that we’ve seen in the preseason & should show up in the season. pic.twitter.com/wahhl3DE9K
— Corbin (@corbin_young21) August 30, 2022
Dameon Pierce was undervalued all offseason. I’m worried that he now gets overvalued – the ghost of Marlon Mack being on the team or not was never really going to affect his performance
Still like him a lot, but you may have missed your best ball window
— Jeremy Layton (@JeremyLayt0n) August 30, 2022
A bit of a surprise Mack was cut considering he was their 2nd best back and you need two solid RBs.
Not a surprise in the slightest that Dameon Pierce will be RB1. https://t.co/ywdomZvSLj
— Jonathan M Alexander (@jonmalexander) August 30, 2022
Dameon Pierce was a great pick when he went in the 10th round.
His price is going to rise to absurd levels now, I’m out.
— Frank Ammirante (@FAmmiranteTFJ) August 30, 2022