Things don’t look amazing at first glance on paper for Pierce, but there are a few reasons why it can get better. And I’m not saying that Pierce will be a RB1 or anything like that anytime soon, but he’s been a low-end RB2 play at best and at times just a flex play… but things should get better for a few reasons.
The first, his share in the backfield just got significantly better. He had 100% of the RB carries in Week 5 - Devin Singletary, according to Fantasy Life’s utilization report, was getting 28% of the rushing work over the first four weeks of the season, and two of those weeks he had shares of 39% and 36%. That work Singletary was getting was significant enough to downgrade Pierce, especially since Pierce was only getting work on early downs (which he still is, by the way) – but if he’s going to get 80%+ of the rushing work, let alone 100% like he did last week, things should get better and there’s a chance he can be a high-end RB2.
The Texans offense is way better than we thought it was going to be, and he just got two key offensive linemen back this past week - Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard. In weeks 1 through 4, Pierce had the 5th highest rate of being stuffed, and that should get better. Now, the production on 20 carries for Pierce wasn’t amazing in Week 5, but they were also playing the Falcons, who the week before saw Travis Etienne get the same amount of carries as Pierce and had even less production.
Pierce has handled 24 and 20 carries over the last two games - the volume is there, and he should have a big game here soon. He’s still 9th among 30 RBs in missed tackles forced/attempt, a stat he was 1st in last year ahead of Nick Chubb. He’s also 5th overall in most missed tackles forced this season.
He’s still not getting passing down work, so he’s a game script dependent RB - he’s in that Brian Robinson category, but does have a little more upside because he’s on a better offense. If you’re looking for a RB2 that you don’t have to give up much more, I think he’s a solid target.