In this Sept. 15, 2019, file photo, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to pass during the first half at an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback Sunday for the winless Miami Dolphins at Buffalo, and Josh Rosen will be back on the bench. Coach Brian Flores announced the decision Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore (20) tries to get past Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown (55) in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Bills won 14-7. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills haven't seen the last of FitzMagic.
Ryan Fitzpatrick picked up many of his colorful nicknames for his fearless flair for dramatics during a four-year stint in Buffalo.
Seven years and five teams later, the Harvard-educated swashbuckler will be back in town facing his former team Sunday, this time with the winless Miami Dolphins. He reclaimed the starting job this week in rookie coach Brian Flores' bid to spark an offense that's scored just 42 points.
''Decided that we feel like that was the best thing for this team and give us an opportunity - the best opportunity - for this team to go up into a tough environment and try to pull out a win,'' Flores said, in explaining his sudden change of heart in having Fitzpatrick take over for turnover-prone Josh Rosen.
Fitzpatrick, 3-2 against the Bills since being released by Buffalo, is more accustomed to playing in what should be a rowdy environment, where the folding table-breaking Bills Mafia has jumped on board a 4-1 team that's off to its best start since 2011. He's proven to be more productive in running a talent-depleted offense after engineering two fourth-quarter touchdown drives before coming a failed two-point conversion short in a 17-16 loss to Washington last week.
Perhaps most of all, Fitzpatrick's easygoing approach might be what the frustrated Dolphins need to stay loose amid questions of tanking, and facing a defense that has yet to allow more than 17 points or 250 yards passing - a big reason Buffalo is 4-1.
Fitzpatrick was already busy cracking jokes upon being named the starter Wednesday. He noted it'll be easy to pick out friends and former neighbors in the stands because they'll be the only ones wearing his old No. 14 Bills jersey.
More seriously, the 36-year-old understands the importance of leading the Dolphins on the field and mentoring Rosen, a former first-round pick now on his second team in two years.
''He knows I'm there and he knows I've been through a lot of different things,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Every Sunday I have the fate of this whole team on my shoulders and that's what you do as a quarterback. But if you allow it to overpower you and you allow it to cripple you, it will. So just trying to play free.''
Tight end Lee Smith certainly remembers Fitzpatrick's freewheeling style when the two were teammates in Buffalo.
''Josh reminds me a lot of him,'' Smith said, referring to Bills second-year starter Josh Allen. ''Both of them are wild. They're diving headfirst into dudes because they want to get every inch they can for their team.''
Fitzpatrick's ability to throw caution to the wind has both extended his career and limited his chances of being a long-term starter. With a 50-77-1 record, he ranks 53rd on the career list with 192 touchdowns, and 59th with 152 interceptions.
One way or the other, he'll have the Bills secondary on its toes.
''With Fitzpatrick, he's a gunslinger,'' Bills safety Micah Hyde said. ''He's going to give us opportunities and he's going to give them opportunities.''
Containing Bills running back Frank Gore, the NFL's active leading rusher, is nothing new for Flores. He was a linebacker at Boston College when his team lost to Gore and the Miami Hurricanes in 2001.
Flores said he didn't actually get a chance to tackle Gore.
''I wasn't very good,'' Flores said. ''I wasn't in there very much.''
Gore, who spent last season with Miami, is 79 all-purpose yards from becoming the ninth player to reach 19,000. He's also two touchdowns shy of becoming the 25th player to reach 100.
LOSING THE SPREAD
Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips might be on to something when he said, ''What's that mean?'' when informed the Bills opened as 15 1/2-point favorites.
The Bills have lost the last two times they've been favored by 15 1/2 or more points. Buffalo lost 24-17 to the New York Jets on Dec. 6, 1992, and 16-13 at Indianapolis the previous week.
By losing a matchup of winless teams against Washington, the Dolphins are favorites in the race for the No. 1 draft pick.
That fits nicely with the organization's rebuilding effort and pursuit of a franchise quarterback. ''Tankfortua'' is a popular Twitter hashtag, as Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is well aware.
''It's flattering,'' Tagovailoa said this week. ''But we have a season to worry about now. Everyone is saying `Tank for Tua' now. But if we end up losing all our games the rest of the season, they won't be there saying it then.''
Chan Gailey's first win as Bills coach in 2010 came courtesy of Fitzpatrick. Same went for interim coach Perry Fewell, who turned to Fitzpatrick after Dick Jauron was fired nine games into the 2009 season.
Fewell had an anxious moment with Buffalo nursing a 17-14 lead over Miami. Taking over with 2:31 remaining, Fitzpatrick ignored his coach's suggestion to play conservatively and instead launched a 51-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens in an eventual 31-14 win.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller has strung together three underwhelming outings, but he will look to right the ship in Week 11 versus the Bengals. The 26-year-old has caught just seven passes over the last three weeks after averaging over seven receptions a game through the team's first six games. Teams have begun to shadow the 6'6" pass-catcher in recent weeks, but that hasn't stopped Derek Carr from peppering him with 15 targets in this span. Waller has an excellent chance to redeem himself versus a Cincinnati team who has been vulnerable on defense and are coming off a game where they allowed two touchdowns to Ravens tight end Mark Andrews in Week 10. Waller is a firm TE1 this week as he looks to get back in his high-volume groove from the season's first half.
After a couple of down weeks, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams will look to rebound in a great matchup versus the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals Defense is susceptible to the passing game, and it's looking likely that their top cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick will be sidelined once again. This is terrific news for Williams, who began the year collecting a TD pass in each of his first five games, although he's yet to find paydirt in his last two outings. The 27-year-old has still seen plenty of opportunities in these games as he's sitting second on the team in targets with nine as the team's WR1. His high-volume role should continue this Sunday, although the offense could lean more on the run game if they get out to an early lead. Williams should be treated as a WR3 in Week 11 with a decent shot at finding the end zone.
With all of his competition for touches being either traded or suspended, Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage did little to impress in last week's 16-12 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Rushing for only 43 yards on 20 carries, and having rushed for only 113 yards on the season, Ballage has been a complete disappointment this year but will get an easier matchup in Week 10, as their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, have given up the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs in 2019. Ballage should continue to get a high volume of touches - with his only competition coming from Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin - but he is still struggling to gain yards after first contact and is running behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. Even facing a Buffalo defense that struggles to stop the run, Ballage is no better than an RB3 this week, carrying a floor of zero and little upside. Leave him on your bench if at all possible, until Ballage proves he can contribute in a meaningful way.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker is the most talented man left standing in the receiving corps but will face an uphill battle in Week 10, with the Buffalo Bills coming into town. Led by shutdown corner TreDavious White, the Bills secondary has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, trailing only the New England Patriots. With teammate Preston Williams out for the season following knee surgery, Parker is clearly quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite target, with his 10 targets leading the Dolphins last week in their 16-12 win over the Indianapolis Colts. While the speedy wideout has a touchdown in four of his last six games and should get close to double-digit targets every week, Parker might also be shadowed by the aforementioned White in Week 10, limiting his ceiling and dropping his floor down to zero. Avoid starting him this week but don't sleep on Parker in the future, as three of his next four opponents are in the bottom-six in points allowed to receivers.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (knee) and wide receiver Dante Pettis (back) were both limited in practice on Thursday. Mostert has been limited all week but should play and serve as Tevin Coleman's backup in Week 11 against the Cardinals with Matt Breida expected to miss one to two weeks. Mostert will have some flex appeal in deeper leagues in a good matchup with Arizona. Pettis was added to the injury report on Thursday. The 24-year-old has been an utter disaster this year in San Fran's run-first offense, and he could continue to see his role shrink after going catchless on three targets last week. Even if Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) is inactive on Sunday, there are way better options in fantasy than Pettis.
Chicago Bears rookie running back David Montgomery (ankle) and tight ends Trey Burton (calf) and Adam Shaheen (foot) missed practice on Thursday. Montgomery rolled his ankle in practice on Wednesday and could wind up as questionable for Sunday night against the Rams. That will obviously pose a big headache for fantasy owners, but Montgomery is a shaky low-end RB2 even if he does play against an LA defensive front that has been stingy against the run. If he can't get the green light, Tarik Cohen would have RB2 upside. The tight end position has been a fantasy wasteland in Chicago, so Ben Braunecker wouldn't even be appealing if both Burton and Shaheen were inactive Sunday night.
Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway is reportedly appealing a 10-game suspension that the NFL handed down earlier in the season. He tested positive for a banned substance after using a CBD edible product in the summer to deal with an ankle injury. Callaway has had several drug-related incidents since declaring for the NFL draft, including a positive test at the combine and a four-game suspension to begin the 2019 season. Cleveland finally gave up on Callaway on Thursday, waiving the former fourth-round draft pick while citing that the receiver had "too many issues." Callaway's appeal with the NFL was heard on Friday and he is still awaiting the NFL's final decision.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) remains out of practice on Thursday. Green suffered a setback due to swelling in his ankle last week and remains without a timetable to return. He was getting close to making his season debut, but he now appears unlikely to play in Week 11 against the Raiders. At this point, Green could be put on season-ending Injured Reserve. He's not a lock to help your fantasy team before or during the playoffs, and even if he does return, his upside will be limited on a winless Bengals squad with rookie Ryan Finley at quarterback. Cincy will continue to roll with Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and Alex Erickson in three-wide sets.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson (back) returned to a limited practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. Even with A.J. Green (ankle) unlikely to return this weekend, Erickson isn't a recommended fantasy starter in any league as the No. 3 receiver on a winless Bengals team with rookie quarterback Ryan Finley under center. Erickson missed both of his two targets in Week 10 with Finley throwing him the ball. He had a blowup on Oct. 20 against the Jaguars when he went for 137 yards on eight catches, but that was clearly an outlier. You can avoid Erickson unless you're truly desperate.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said he expects tight ends Gerald Everett (wrist) and Tyler Higbee (knee) to play on Sunday night against the Bears in Week 11. Everett has had a breakout season in 2019 and has become the preferred pass-catching tight end over Higbee. With Brandin Cooks (concussion) out at least another week, Everett has TE1 appeal this weekend, even in a tough matchup with the Bears Defense looming. Unless Everett gets hurt and misses time, Higbee can be left on the waiver wire in redraft leagues.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (ankle, knee) returned to a limited practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. He should do more in practice on Friday and remains on track to play in Week 11 against the Lions. Cooper has battled through several injuries this year but has remained one of the most consistently productive receivers in the NFL. He'll be a high-end WR1 against a Lions secondary that has been one of the most generous units in the league against opposing wide receivers. Cooper is a must-start.
In a surprise move, the Cleveland Browns announced that they waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway on Thursday. Callaway was suspended ahead of the team's Week 10 matchup against the Buffalo Bills for arriving late but he was expected to return for Thursday night's showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead, Callaway didn't respond well to the benching, prompting Cleveland to release the 2018 fourth-round draft pick. The Browns will move forward with Rashard Higgins as their No. 3 receiver. Callaway should catch on somewhere as he is regarded as a talented player but he might have to settle for a practice squad spot. Offensive lineman Drew Forbes was activated off of injured reserve to take Callaway's roster spot.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed wide receiver Ryan Switzer (back) and fullback Roosevelt Nix (knee) on Injured Reserve on Thursday. Switzer injured his back in the Week 10 win over the Rams. In corresponding moves, receiver Tevin Jones and linebacker Jayrone Elliott were added to the active roster. Switzer was more of a special teams guy and had only eight receptions on 11 targets for 27 yards in three games for the Steelers this year. He wasn't even on the fantasy map to begin with.
Washington Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said that moving rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin around more could help get him out of his slump. The impressive rookie is versatile and capable of moving to different spots in the formation. The 24-year-old hasn't found the end zone since Oct. 13 against the Dolphins (twice that day), but it's mainly the team's offense and the quarterback situation holding him back. It hasn't helped matters that rookie Dwayne Haskins is now in charge. The matchup against the Jets couldn't be any better, but McLaurin is still more of a boom-or-bust WR3 for fantasy owners. He has nine catches in the last three games.
Washington Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said that running back Adrian Peterson was rested in practice on Thursday, and he'll be fine for Week 11 against the Jets. The 34-year-old has been the bell-cow back since Callahan took over, and he's seen at least 18 carries in three of the last four games, so rest is certainly in order coming out of the bye week. Peterson's floor has been higher in recent weeks, but that will change with Derrius Guice (knee) returning this Sunday to an expected big workload. AD will still have a role, but he's back to being a low-upside RB3/flex in deeper leagues.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (hand) is expected to be activated from the Injured Reserve this week to play in Week 11 against the Vikings. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot) is expected to go on IR in a corresponding move. Patrick came on strong at the end of last year after the Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas, but that's unlikely to happen again to close the 2019 season with either inexperienced quarterback Brandon Allen or rookie Drew Lock at the helm. Denver's low-upside offense just can't really support another fantasy relevant receiver behind Courtland Sutton right now. Patrick is only a stash candidate in dynasty leagues.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and kicker Robbie Gould (quadriceps) all missed practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday. It's looking like Kittle and Gould will miss their second straight game, while Sanders is doubtful after injuring his ribs on Monday night. Even in a great matchup, it'll make quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo one to fade if he's missing his top receiving targets. Rookie Deebo Samuel will have WR2 upside if both Kittle and Sanders sit out. We wouldn't recommend backup tight end Ross Dwelley or kicker Chase McLaughlin as deep league streamers.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) has a chance to play in Week 11 against the Broncos despite the fact that he hasn't practiced yet this week. We'll believe it if Thielen returns to practice on Friday, but even then he'll likely be a long shot, especially with the chance to rest up even more during the Week 12 bye. If you own Thielen, you should be expecting him to sit again this weekend. Stefon Diggs has been shut down the last two weeks with Thielen hobbled, and that could continue this Sunday against Chris Harris Jr. and company. Olabisi Johnson is second on the depth chart, but he's a dice roll for fantasy production behind Diggs.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense eliminated any doubts about their weekly fixture in fantasy lineups by recording five sacks, four turnovers and one touchdown against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. Theyre pitted against another division rival in Week 11 versus the Arizona Cardinals. Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray surprisingly diced up the Niners in their Week 9 matchup, limiting the defense to their only turnover-free game of 2019. Even with Murrays ascension, the season-long havoc the Niners have wreaked make them a must-start. With the leagues best pass rush and Arizonas porous offensive line, fire up the unit with confidence.
The moment could be now for San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel. With tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) and wideout Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) banged up in Week 10, Samuel drew a season-high 11 targets, converting them into eight grabs and 112 yards. With both Kittle and Sanders likely to miss Week 11s tilt against the Arizona Cardinals, Samuel is a plug-and-play WR3. Samuel possesses an intriguing speed and burst combination in the 80th percentile and ranks ninth in the NFL with an 86 percent catchable target rate. Although hes battled consistency this season, Samuel has a golden opportunity to embrace the lead dog role against a Cardinals pass defense ranked 26th in DVOA.