Ranking the Houston Texans RBs in the AFC South in 2023

Houston Texans
Houston Texans / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
2 of 2

. . . . . . . 4. Ranking the RBs in the AFC South (Jags). 52

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot going for them heading into the 2023 season and have high expectations.  They have the best starting quarterback in the division and boast a deep and talented group of wide receivers.  They are once again expected to win the AFC South.

They also have a terrific running back in Travis Etienne who was an every-down back for them in 2022; however, after him on the depth chart, there isn’t much in terms of proven commodities.  Etienne rushed for 1,125 yards and five touchdowns, in what was essentially his rookie season, after suffering an injury prior to year one that cost him the entire season.  He averaged a healthy 5.1 yards per carry and helped the Texans advance to the playoffs.

As I mentioned though, there isn’t much after Etienne.  The depth chart is highlighted by JaMycal Hasty and D’Ernest Johnson.  The team also added Tank Bigsby via the NFL draft.  As a rookie, Bigsby is an unknown, and Hasty hasn’t really done much in his four years in the league.  Johnson has shown flashes, and depending on how Bigsby performs in camp, it’s likely Johnson is the primary backup as the Jags prepare to defend their AFC South championship.

. . . 3. . 35. Ranking the RB in the AFC South (Titans). . .

The next couple of spots were tough to decide between.  The next two teams in this ranking have similar issues after their number one back, so it really came down to who I think the better running back will be in 2023.  For that reason, I chose Tennessee for the number three spot in the division for the running back room.

I know Derrick Henry has been one of the best running backs in the league the last several years but at 29 years old, he’s past that 28-year-old wall when backs tend to begin their decline, and often times, that decline is rather sudden.

Henry still piled up 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns.  An elite season by any standard but he’s led the league in carries in three of the last four years, so while he may be piling up the yardage, he’s also piling up the mileage.  In the one year, he didn’t lead the league he was injured but still had over 200 carries in just eight games.

Behind Henry is a bunch of unknowns, except for 2023 rookie Tyjae Spears.  Spears is coming out of Tulane and was one of the darlings of the draft but comes with potential injury concerns.  Even still, he’s a rookie and you never know what you’ll get with players coming into their first year in the league.

. . . . Ranking the RBs in the AFC South (Colts). . 46. 2. .

The Indianapolis Colts might have some issues with their running back room but for the time being Jonathan Taylor is still the number one back and one of the best in the league.  He’s still young and has plenty of tread left on his tires, unlike that of Derrick Henry.

Last year, Taylor suffered a late-season injury that cost him six games in 2022.  Through 11 games he had 192 carries for 861 yards, a 4.5 yards per carry average.  With Nyheim Hines getting traded to the Buffalo Bills in the middle of the year, it was mostly Taylor’s offense; however, after the injury, it was primarily Zack Moss, who was part of the Hines trade.

Moss played eight games with the Colts last season and had 76 carries for 365 yards.  His yards per carry was a surprisingly high 4.8.  Where the Colts really miss Taylor though is the passing game.  In Moss’ eight games, he hauled in only four receptions, compared to Taylor’s 28.

Moss hasn’t been anything special in the NFL but he’s still a viable backup option.  The team also added rookies Evan Hull and Zavier Scott, and Deon Jackson rounds out the running back room for the Colts.

. . . . 1. . Ranking the RBs in the AFC South (Texans). . . 10

This choice might surprise some but it’s fair to say the Houston Texans have the best one-two punch at the position.  No team in the AFC South can boast a better top two than what the Texans have with Dameon Pierce and Devin Singletary.

Dameon Pierce recorded nearly 1,000 yards in his rookie year, while averaging 4.3 yards per carry behind a very weak offensive line.  He probably would have hit that mark, if not for a late-season injury.  He also chipped in 30 receptions and totaled five touchdowns.

Devin Singletary signed as a free agent, coming over from Buffalo where he ran for 819 yards on 177 carries for a solid 4.6 yards per carry.  He also didn’t have a very good offensive line.  Singletary has been quite productive throughout his career too.  He has a 4.7 yards per carry career average and has added 145 receptions too.

The Texans also signed undrafted rookie Xazavian Valladay, who could be a bit of a sleeper.  He was excellent in the college ranks and has the potential to provide a third option, should one of the top two guys go down with an injury.  That said though, he’s still a rookie, so there is an unknown factor.

More Houston Texans content from Toro Times