Entering play on Sunday, Seattle's defense had allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season, and they'd held opposing ball-carriers to just just 3.1 yards per carry. The only back to top the 60-yard mark against the Seahawks had been DeMarco Murray, the NFL's leading rusher. Whatever else went wrong for the defending Super Bowl champs, the team's D was still stuffing the run.
But not this week.
St. Louis rookie Tre Mason carried the ball 18 times against Seattle on Sunday, gaining a team-high 85 yards. His afternoon included a 6-yard touchdown run, the first score of his pro career, and he broke off his second 20-plus yard gain in as many weeks. Benny Cunningham got the start for the Rams, but Mason carried the mail. (He also dropped a piece of mail, but his team kinda/sorta recovered.)
Mason was barely a rumor in September, but he's been a revelation in October. He's received 24 touches over the past two weeks — in degree-of-difficulty matchups — and he's converted them into 137 scrimmage yards. This week, Mason out-carried Cunningham 18-to-2.
Zac Stacy? He played just one snap in Week 7, and he didn't touch the football. Stacy an easy drop in fantasy, except in the deepest leagues.
Mason, clearly, is the guy you want in the Rams backfield. He should be well-known to anyone who was even vaguely aware of college football last season, as he piled up 1,816 rushing yards and 24 TDs at Auburn. He's a recommended fantasy play moving forward, despite the less-than-ideal NFC West schedule. Mason has had his issues in pass-pro, but there's no denying his ability as a runner. The kid has already demonstrated that he can overcome a challenging matchup, too.
Add and enjoy.
• Another week, another heroic game-winning drive for Kyle Orton. This is exactly how you expected Buffalo's season to play out, right? Of course it is. Orton fed Sammy Watkins early and late on Sunday, as the rookie wideout finished with nine catches, 122 yards and two scores on 14 targets against Minnesota, once again demonstrating his WR1-level talent. He caught the game-winner, naturally. Now that Watkins has a competent QB, you really need to think of him as an every-week, no-doubt fantasy start.
Despite the win, things did not go according to script for the Bills on Sunday. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller were lost to injuries, and both were carted off. So that's awful. It's a groin injury for Fred, and a collarbone for C.J....
Source: C.J. Spiller will have surgery tomorrow to repair broken collarbone, and he is done for the season.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 19, 2014
Brutal. Anthony Dixon handled the rushing workload when the lead backs went down. Bryce Brown should enter the mix next week, presumably in a significant way. Brown is the high-ceiling back, the big-play threat. For me, he's the Bills back to chase on the wire.
• I would refer to Aaron Rodgers as "surgical," but that's almost an insult to his skill level. How many surgeons are as precise as Rodgers? Not many, I'd guess. He went a ridiculous 19-for-22 on Sunday, shredding Carolina's defense, averaging 11.6 yards per attempt and tossing three TD passes. He's obscene, really. As good as it gets.
• Andy Dalton? Yeah, he is definitely not as good as it gets — or at least he wasn't on Sunday. The Bengals were shut out at Indianapolis, and the offense was a three-and-out machine. Cincy finished with just 135 total net yards of offense (2.5 per play), which is kind of insane. The Bengals D has allowed 107 total points over the team's last three games, so that unit isn't covered in glory, either. They host the Ravens, Jaguars and Browns in the coming weeks, so at least the schedule gets somewhat friendlier.
• Larry Donnell resurfaced for the Giants in New York's 31-21 loss at Dallas, hauling in seven balls on as many targets for 90 yards. The Cowboys have been indifferent to tight end production basically all year, and it continued on Sunday. Buzzy rookie Odell Beckham Jr. delivered the biggest fantasy line for Big Blue, snagging a pair of TD passes on six targets. If he's still available in your league ... well, wow. Address that situation, please.
Andre Williams once again did nothing of note, averaging 2.8 YPC and catching nothin' on three targets. Rashad Jennings owners, you've got no reason to worry.
• Andre Ellington was the unrivaled king of the Andres on Sunday. (Thanks for playing, Williams and Holmes.) Ellington led the Cards in both rushing and receiving, finishing with an even 160 scrimmage yards at Oakland. He managed to handle 30 touches (six receptions), though he didn't break the plane. Stepfan Taylor poached the TDs, annoyingly enough, scoring twice on 14 touches. You can't reasonably expect Taylor to achieve fantasy relevance while running behind Ellington, but it's worth noting his role near the goal-line.
• Drew Brees completed throws to nine different receivers in his team's late collapse at Detroit, but Jimmy Graham was a no-show. He saw two targets officially, catching neither. By the end of the game, he no longer stressed the Lions defense...
Quin: Jimmy Graham was more of a decoy out there in 2 minute, we weren't worried about him
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 19, 2014
The best thing we can say about Graham's day is that he didn't re-injure himself (we think). Perhaps there's a buy-low opportunity here.
Golden Tate was a monster in Calvin Johnson's absence, catching 10 balls on 13 targets for 154 yards and one score. The touchdown was a late game-changing 73-yarder on which Tate did most of the heavy lifting, roasting the Saints' secondary.
Oh, hey, look. Jacksonville finally found a useful running back. Denard Robinson shredded the Browns for 127 yards on 22 carries, with an 8-yard touchdown included. I'm not gonna look it up, but I'm guessing Robinson's rushing total topped the previous single-game high for the 2014 Jags by like 107 yards. He is now the only Jacksonville RB on the approved list for fantasy purposes. Robinson also has a useful (and rare) dual position-eligibility situation that gamers will appreciate.
If you streamed the Cleveland D this week you weren't burned too badly, despite the fact that Jacksonville won, because Blake Bortles generously tossed three picks. Next week, the Jags host Miami.
• If you haven't yet seen Jamaal Charles' 16-yard Tecmo touchdown run, make sure you hit the link. He left a trail of humiliated Chargers behind him, before being walloped in the end-zone. Charles is simply unfair — possibly something more than human. When you erase Priest Holmes from the Chiefs' record book, you're pretty damn good.
• If you asked me to find a single play to summarize the Bears' loss to Miami on Sunday, it would have to be this Shea McClellin face-plant on Charles Clay's 13-yard touchdown. That's, um ... not good. Something less than a footwork clinic.
We shall speak no more of Bears.
• Torrey Smith gave us another quality stat-line, taking advantage of a mostly helpless Atlanta on Sunday. Smith finished with 81 yards on three catches, and he hauled in a late 39-yard score. So there's more to him than PI flags. Joe Flacco followed up his five-touchdown binge in Week 6 with a 258-yard, two-TD, two-INT line against the Birds — not terrible, but not all we'd hoped for. Justin Forsett again dominated the touches in the Ravens backfield (23-95-0), but Bernard Pierce snagged the rushing score.
A few potential adds for your consideration, as you prepare to drop Steven Jackson...
EARLY PICKUPS FOR WEEK 8
QB Kyle Orton, Buf (at NYJ)
QB Ryan Tannehill, Mia (at Jac)
QB Robert Griffin III, Was (at Dal)
RB Tre Mason, STL (at KC)
RB/WR Denard Robinson, Jac (vs. Mia)
RB Benny Cunningham, STL (at KC)
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (bye)
WR Doug Baldwin, Sea (at Car)
WR Allen Robinson, Jac (vs. Mia)
WR Jordan Matthews, Phi (at Ari)
WR Davante Adams, GB (at NO)
TE Charles Clay, Mia (at Jac)
DEF Cleveland (vs. Oak)
DEF Miami (at Jac)