Bernard Pierce's Steady Workload Makes Him Must-Start RB in Week 3

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2013

Ray Rice going down with a hip injury in Week 2 was an unwelcome sight for many fantasy football owners, but not for those fortunate enough to snag Rice's backfield mate, Bernard Pierce.

In the wake of Rice's injury, the second-year running back is a must-start in Week 3 vs. the Houston Texans. Not only is Pierce coming off a 57-yard, one-touchdown performance last weekend against the Cleveland Browns, he's sure to get a ton of carries on Sunday, which should result in better production.

Don't believe me? Just ask CBS Sports fantasy football guru Jamey Eisenberg:

Even if Rice, who is doubtful to play in Sunday's game, can give Baltimore a few snaps on offense, Pierce will be the guy they call on most often.

After all, the former Temple star has carried the ball 28 times in two games, while Rice has just 25 rushes in seven quarters of football.

Therefore, any success Baltimore's offense achieves on the ground Sunday is sure to start and end with Pierce. At 6'0", 218 pounds, Pierce is a strong runner who rarely goes down on the first hit. And with the Ravens offensive line continuing to develop rhythm in Week 3, Pierce should benefit from some improved blocking up front.

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 15:  Bernard Pierce #30 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by Billy Winn #90 of the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter of a game at M&T Bank Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermo
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Plus, Houston's defense will have to respect reigning Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing attack. While some key weapons are missing, Baltimore has been good for nearly 270 yards per game through the air this season.

Sure, Pierce lacks the versatility that Rice brings in terms of making plays in the passing game, but that won't stop John Harbaugh and the Ravens' offensive coaching staff from handing the ball off to him repeatedly on Sunday.

While Baltimore hasn't had a ton of success on the ground this season in terms of picking up yards, keep in mind that only nine other teams in the NFL have handed the ball off more than the Ravens have in two weeks.

As far as Pierce's matchup is concerned this weekend, Houston's rush defense isn't terrible, but it isn't overwhelmingly good either. The Texans rank just 16th in the league in fewest yards-per-carry allowed (3.9), and 17th in fewest rushing yards per game given up (99.5).

The Texans are one of only nine teams that have yet to surrender a rushing touchdown in 2013, but it must be noted that their first two opponents, the Chargers and the Titans, have combined to score just one rushing touchdown heading into Week 3.

Baltimore has scored on a rushing touchdown in each of its first two games to start the year, with Pierce scoring the go-ahead touchdown run from five yards out against Cleveland last week.

Pierce may not explode for 100 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3, but he's sure to turn out another quality performance for fantasy owners at home against a vulnerable defense. 


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