Players: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott answers questions after the Cleveland Browns defeated the Bills 19-16 in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Miami Dolphins defensive back Chris Lammons, left, hugs head coach Brian Flores, center, after an NFL football game against New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores walks off the field after his first win of the season after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) rushes against the Washington Redskins during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Munson)
MIAMI (AP) The Miami Dolphins have been gaining ground the past few weeks on the Buffalo Bills, muddling the race between perennial AFC East also-rans.
Miami fell to 0-6 when it lost in Week 7 at Buffalo, which was 5-1 and off to its best start in 11 years.
But the Bills (6-3) have since lost two of three, quashing any illusions they were on the verge of challenging New England's supremacy in the division. The Dolphins (2-7), meanwhile, have quieted talk they're historically horrible by winning their past two games.
''The outside world, the media, maybe thought this wasn't possible,'' Miami defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. ''We got two more wins than the rest of the world thought we were going to have this year, so that's pretty cool.''
The Dolphins did appear destined for a winless season after they gave up 22 points in the fourth quarter and lost at Buffalo 31-21 on Oct. 20.
The teams meet again Sunday.
''We're different than we were when we played Buffalo last time,'' Miami coach Brian Flores said. ''And so are they.''
Much of the Dolphins' improvement has come on defense. A month into the season, they ranked last in the league in points and yards allowed. In Weeks 6 through 9, they ranked 15th in scoring defense and 14th in yards allowed.
''When we played them, they were we felt a better team than what their record indicated,'' Bills coach Sean McDermott said. ''And that has been proven. They're playing hard and they're disciplined. They don't beat themselves.''
The Dolphins' winning streak has hurt their chances of landing the No. 1 draft pick in April, to the distress of their fans and the amusement of their players.
''It's an interesting narrative that obviously has been following our team the whole year,'' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. ''It has been nice to get two wins and to kill the narrative a little bit.''
The Bills' offense has stagnated lately. They rank 25th in points and have totaled 29 in their past two defeats.
''We've got to score more points to enable ourselves to win games and to be a threat down the stretch,'' McDermott said.
Only two teams have allowed fewer points, but the Bills' run defense has become leaky lately. In their three games since the win over Miami, the Bills have allowed 492 yards rushing.
Because of soft run defense, opposing offenses haven't been forced into risky pass plays, and Buffalo's defense doesn't have a takeaway in the past three games.
''We have to do a better job in the run game, which will hopefully increase the number of shots people want to take,'' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said.
Miami managed a season-high 109 yards rushing against Buffalo last month but is averaging a league-low 3.1 yards per attempt.
After losing the three best defensive backs on their Week 1 roster to a trade and injuries, the Dolphins have been winning with a patchwork secondary.
Undrafted rookie Nik Needham and waiver acquisition Steven Parker each had his first career interception last week, and Eric Rowe has been forced to switch from cornerback to safety.
''In this league, that's what you anticipate - stuff like that,'' defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. ''If you're not thinking ahead and trying to anticipate those situations in a physical league, you're going to be behind, because it's going to happen.''
Cornerback Tre'Davious White made a diving interception at the Bills 2-yard line to spark their comeback against Miami last month. Fitzpatrick said that play will factor into his preparation in the rematch.
''Maybe not throwing an out route near the goal line this time, that's a pretty good lesson that I probably learned 100 times in my career,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''But learned it again the hard way in our first game.''
White also forced a fumble in the second half of that game.
''He does jump out on film,'' Fitzpatrick said.
One big reason for the Dolphins' improvement on defense is the 315-pound Wilkins, Miami's first-round draft choice this year.
''He has really started to pick it up the last few games,'' Flores said. ''He's very talented. He's got size, he's got athleticism, he plays with a really good motor, and I think he's starting to come into his own.''
Wilkins leads defensive linemen in the 2019 draft class with 32 tackles and ranks seventh among all tackles.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette performed adequately in Week 15 against the Raiders. He rushed the ball 15 times for 42 yards while adding 5 receptions for 31 yards on seven targets. You can live with the production in PPR, but it's a bit of an underwhelming performance for non-PPR. Fournette has been held without a touchdown and under 100 total yards in three straight games now. He'll look to break that streak in Week 16 when the Jaguars face the Falcons.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Ryquell Armstead rushed the ball just one time and gained only a single yard in Week 15 against the Raiders. Armstead had just three carries in his past five games coming into Week 15, so the minimal workload was no surprise. He's shown some promising flashes this year, most notably a five-catch game against the Texans in early November, but he would need an injury to the team's No. 1 running back Leonard Fournette in order to gain fantasy relevance.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole had three catches for 76 yards on six targets in Week 15 against the Raiders. Cole led the team in receiving yards, but he was third in targets behind Chris Conley and Leonard Fournette. Cole benefited from the absence of D.J. Chark (ankle) in this game, and he could remain a viable low-end fantasy option for as long as Chark ends up being out.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew had a solid game against the Raiders in Week 15. He completed 17-of-29 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He was turnover-free in the game and also added 27 rushing yards. Minshew had disappointed in his past three starts, failing to top 200 yards in two of the games while throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns in the third game. So it was encouraging to see him take advantage of a favorable matchup. He has another favorable matchup against the Falcons in Week 16.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught two of three targets for 14 yards in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Lazard has come back down to earth the last two weeks after exploding for 103 yards against the Giants. He can't be counted upon for fantasy when he's averaging 2.7 targets per game in his last four contests
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen had another miserable performance, finishing with 277 yards on 25-for-41 passing while adding three interceptions and a touchdown during the loss to the Seahawks. He also had five carries for 25 yards. After an impressive debut earlier in the season against Arizona, it has been all downhill for the 25-year-old, who logged his 15th pick on the year in Week 15. With two games remaining, Allen will have to get it together if he hopes to remain the starter come next season in the event that Cam Newton (foot) gets traded during the offseason.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught two of four targets for 19 yards in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Allison's day included a drop on a ball Aaron Rodgers put right in his hands. Allison has now failed to exceed 50 receiving yards in all but one game this year. He's certainly off the fantasy radar for the remainder of the season.
Cleared from concussion protocol, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson didn't do much for those owners who took a chance on the speedy wide receiver ahead of a prime matchup with a bad Giants Defense. Wilson's eight targets led all Dolphins wide receivers and he managed to convert five of them for a total of 59 yards, finishing his day with just five points in standard leagues. Even with a matchup in Week 16 against the hapless Bengals, Wilson is only a desperation play for those fighting for a fantasy championship.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught seven of 13 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Adams hesitated on his route, then left Bears corner Buster Skrine in the dust for a 29-yard score. A great day could have been even better for Adams, if not for a few uncharacteristic drops. Still, Adams saw double-digit targets for the sixth time this year and remains Aaron Rodgers' most trustworthy receiver. He'll get a good matchup for fantasy receivers in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick turned in another solid performance in a losing effort on Sunday, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-20 loss to the New York Giants. Fitzpatrick didnt throw an interception for the first time in more than a month but still managed to contribute a brutal turnover, fumbling on Miamis first drive of the second half after New York had just taken the lead with a touchdown. Fitzpatrick finished with 19 points on the day, rewarding the many who took a chance on the veteran even with as their playoff hopes were on the line. He'll have another solid matchup in Week 16, as the Cincinnati Bengals come to town in a battle of two of the NFL's worst teams.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins was overshadowed by teammates Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce during the Week 15 win. Watkins caught three of four targets for 49 yards in the win over the Broncos. Hill and Kelce are going to continue to be the favorite targets in KC. Watkins should be considered a boom-or-bust WR3 for his Week 16 matchup with the Bears. Watkins has some fantasy value, but hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 1.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has shown the ability to make big plays, but has been lost in the shuffle lately. Having both Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins back healthy has basically killed Hardman's fantasy value. He saw two targets and caught one of them for 10 yards in the Week 15 win over the Broncos. Hardman has seen three total targets over the last three games. He belongs on the bench or waiver wire in most formats at this point. He'll be a boom-or-bust WR5 for his matchup with the Bears in Week 16.
The last man standing in the backfield, Miami Dolphins running back Patrick Laird was a non-factor in fantasy on Sunday, rushing for 46 yards and scoring just four points in standard leagues. Laird was even more ineffective in the passing game, catching two of his five targets for eight yards. In theory, Laird will have a better matchup in Week 16, facing a Cincinnati defense thats allowing the seventh-most points to running backs this season but its not as if the Giants were that much better, having had allowed the 15th-most prior to the matchup with Miami. Even facing the one-win Bengals, Laird is only a desperate play with fantasy championships on the line.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been arguably the best tight end in the NFL this season. He absolutely destroyed the Broncos Defense during the Week 15 matchup Kelce caught 11 of 13 targets for 142 yards in the 23-3 win over Denver. Kelce surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the season during that contest. Kelce is going to continue to be an elite PPR TE1 for his matchup with the Bears next week.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had a day despite his team falling to the Seahawks on Sunday, finishing with 87 yards on 19 carries, while also adding eight catches for 88 yards. After failing to score a touchdown in either of his previous two outings, the 23-year-old also racked up his 15th and 16th score of the season in this one. Though the team has nothing left to play for this year, McCaffrey should remain active over the next two games as he attempts to hit 1,000 yards on both the ground and through the air.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had no issues in the 23-3 victory over the Broncos in Week 15. Hill caught five of his seven targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown came on a 41-yard play where Hill completely destroyed Broncos' Chris Harris. The snowy conditions can't even hold back Hill. Fantasy owners should feel comfortable with Hill as a WR1 for their matchup with the Bears next week.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams was held to 26 rushing yards on eight totes and one catch for seven yards in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Williams, like Aaron Jones, couldn't find much room to operate between the 20s against Akiem Hicks and the Bears Defense. Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, Jones out-touched him 13-nine and scored twice in the red zone. It's also worth noting that Williams has seen only two targets the last two weeks after seeing 12 in Weeks 11 and 12. He'll look to bounce back in a tough matchup next week against the Minnesota Vikings.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was signed by the team roughly two weeks ago and is already making an impact on the field. Ware rushed seven times for 26 yards in the victory over the Denver Broncos. However, the Chiefs have a running back committee, so Ware has handcuffed fantasy value. Both LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson are going to see carries each week. He's not someone worth owning in basically any format. He'll have a tough matchup against the Bears Defense in Week 16.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) has left the game and will not return after being tackled on a third-quarter run. He landed hard on the shoulder/chest area that has been giving him trouble in the last few weeks and will be held out for the remainder of the contest. With Alexander Mattison (ankle) also out, the backfield duties will now be split between Ameer Abdullah and Mike Boone in the second half. Cook had nine carries for 27 yards and three catches for 16 yards before exiting.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught two passes for only 13 yards in the Patriots 34-13 win over the Bengals. Sanu has been battling an ankle injury over the past few weeks and does not look 100%. Add to that the fact that Sanu is acclimating himself into a new offense and his fantasy value has fallen off the map. The veteran has very little value at present with only two games remaining in the season.