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Value of Things: Way Too Early Texans Projections— Running Backs

Will Dameon Pierce take the next step this season?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas and the gambling community have cast their lots. They have collectively picked the Houston Texans to win between 5.5 games and 6.5 games. If you were to hold a gun to their head, I’m sure they would settle on 6-11 as a prediction. That’s a marked improvement but it doesn’t capture the optimism that many Texans fans are feeling right now. In order to articulate where we would differ with the keener minds of the gambling community we need to break the team down piece by piece.

That means not only looking at the whole but also the sum of its parts. When you look at fantasy projections you are not talking about the same group of experts, but they might as well be related. If the Texans meet all of the projections then they are destined to finish 6-11. In order to get to that seventh win we need to find a position group that will outperform its expectations. If we find more than one we might be looking at eight or nine wins.

2022 Numbers

We can divide these numbers into two different categories. There is always the numbers the team produces overall. What we know is that teams like the San Francisco 49ers utilized wide receivers (Deebo Samuel) in the running game and backs had a dramatic impact on the passing game as well. So, we first need to look at what the team did as a whole and then look at running backs specifically.

Rushing Attempts: 398 (30th)

Rushing Yards: 1476 (31st)

Yards Per Attempt: 3.7 (31st)

Rushing TD: 7 (31st)

Obviously, this is a look at the whole and not necessarily the sum of its parts. We know the Pep Hamilton offense lacked a lot of imagination, so it didn’t use quarterbacks or receivers in the running game effectively. It is going to be somewhat unpredictable to determine how much guys like Tank Dell and the quarterbacks could figure in the running game this season. So, we need to look at the top three running backs from last season in terms of usage and then look at the top three projected backs this season. This time around we will look at their receiving numbers as well to see if we will get improvement in both phases of the game.

Dameon Pierce: 220 carries, 939 yards, 4.3 YPA, four TDs, 30 catches,165 yards, one TD

Rex Burkhead: 26 carries, 80 yards, 3.1 YPA, zero TD, 37 catches, 204 yards, one TD

Dare Ogunbowale: 42 carries, 123 yards, 2.9 YPA, one TD, 20 catches, 104 yards, zero TD

Total: 288 carries, 1,142 yards, 4.0 YPA, five TD, 87 catches, 473 yards, two TDs

These numbers are simply a data point. They don’t have any frame of reference yet until we compare them with something else. The team rankings speak for themselves, but those are team rankings and we know a lot goes into that in addition to the backs themselves. What we will also see, is that 2022 was not completely bad news. In particular, the receiving numbers are actually fairly decent.

2023 Projections

CBS Sports Line

Dameon Pierce: 270 carries, 1,128 yards, 4.2 YPA, 6 TD, 31 catches, 171 yards, one TD

Devin Singletary: 146 carries, 527 yards, 3.6 YPA, 3 TD, 29 catches, 177 yards, 0 TD

Total: 416 carries, 1655 yards, 4.0 YPA, 9 TD, 60 catches, 348 yards, one TD


Dameon Pierce: 223 carries, 950 yards, 4.3 YPA, six TDs, 38 catches, 273 yards, one TD

Devin Singletary: 119 carries, 537 yards, 4.5 YPA, three TDs, 31 catches, 237 yards, one TD

Mike Boone: 33 carries, 147 yards, 4.5 YPA, one TD, 8 catches, 62 yards, zero TD

Total: 375 carries, 1,632 yards, 4.4 YPA, 10 TDs, 77 catches, 572 yards, two TDs


Dameon Pierce: 264 carries, 1,130 yards, 4.3 YPA, seven TDs, 30 catches, 214 yards, one TD

Devin Singletary: 128 carries, 542 yards, 4.2 YPA, four TDs, 30 catches, 223 yards, one TD

Total: 392 carries, 1,672 yards, 4.3 YPA, 11 TDs, 60 catches, 437 yards, two TDs

Composite Rankings

One of the things we like to do before looking at an over/under is to get an aggregate for the numbers we are seeing. In short, the idea is that none of the sources will be completely on point, but maybe the combination can give us something to go on. In particular, both Yahoo and CBS only go two running backs deep. However, we know that there will be some other folks getting the ball. We will assume that is Mike Boone for now, but we will address that in more detail later.

Dameon Pierce: 252 carries, 1,069 yards, 4.2 YPA, six TDs, 33 catches, 219 yards, one TD

Devin Singletary: 131 carries, 535 yards, 4.1 YPA, three TDs, 30 catches, 212 yards, one TD

Mike Boone: 33 carries, 147 yards, 4.5 YPA, one TD, 8 catches, 62 yards, zero TD

Total: 416 carries, 1751 yards, 4.2 YPA, 10 TDs, 71 catches, 493 yards, two TDs

So, when we combine the rushing and receiving we see that the backs are projected to contribute a lot more to the offense. the composite has 487 touches and 2,243 yards from the top three running backs in comparison with 375 touches and 1,615 yards from the top three running backs last season. That’s 4.6 yards per touch for this season versus 4.3 yards last season. Either way you slice it, we are expecting an improvement.


If we set the over/under at 1,750 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving for the top three backs then we have a really interesting number. It is sometimes easy to focus on the who rather than the what. Most Texans fans would seriously doubt that Mike Boone makes the squad much less gets a ton of carries or catches. Xazavian Valladay is the hot name right now as an undrafted free agent. Will he become that elusive third back every successful team needs? He just might be, but will it change those overall numbers much?

I will take the over on rushing yards and the over on receiving yards. When you look at the 49ers numbers from last season you can see that they averaged six more carries per game than the projected composite. Granted, that was including Deebo Samuel, but you have to think the coaching staff will lean more on the running game than is projected. Their running backs had more receptions as well, but that included one of the best receiving backs in the NFL in Christian McCaffrey. We will go with the under on receiving totals, but not much under. The overall amount might be pretty close to what the experts have, Even still, this is quite an improvement.