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.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is currently the fantasy QB4, and while his opponent this Sunday -- the Denver Broncos -- are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season, you've still got to trust Watson and deploy him as your starting fantasy quarterback. He's coming off a strong performance against New England's league-best defense in which he threw for three touchdowns and also caught one on an option play, so we've definitely seen Watson succeed in tough spots.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde is coming his worst performance of the season, a 10-carry, 17-yard outing against a strong Patriots Defense. Now, he's about to face a Broncos Defense that's allowing the eighth-fewest yards per carry to opposing running backs, which is bad news for Hyde, who's shown a tendency to struggle at times this season. His volume should give him a chance to produce something, but he still shouldn't be considered more than a low-end RB3 this week.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has scored a touchdown in his last four games played and is now up to six for the season. He'll look to keep the scoring streak going against the Lions Defense as the nominal No. 2 "receiver" in the offense with Adam Thielen (hamstring) again out. Rudolph has clearly gained the trust of Kirk Cousins in the red zone and has seen at least five targets in five of his last six games played. Though his yardage totals will never blow anyone away, few tight ends can match his propensity for finding the end zone and he has to be kept in lineups as a low-end TE1 at this point (as long as Thielen remains out). Start him as such in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison has a chance to see an increased workload in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions. Starter Dalvin Cook (chest) was removed from the injury report and is in line to start, but the risk of re-injury certainly remains. The Vikings are favored by 13 points and have the highest projected total this week, and Mattison has had some of his best fantasy performances in blowouts this season. They could also choose to rest Cook completely if they build a big enough lead. Mattison has made the most of his opportunities this season (4.8 yards per carry), and you'll want him in your flex spot if he's going to get more than his typical 5-12 touch workload against the shoddy Lions Defense. He's not for the faint of heart, but Mattison is startable in deep leagues as a flex option in Week 14.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram left the start of practice on Saturday and went into the training facilities. His departure from practice alongside Daniel Jones (ankle) is cause for concern considering Pat Shurmur indicated on Friday that he knows foot injuries like Engrams take a while to recover from. If Engram isnt able to come out and take part in any drills today, it would be a bad sign for his status on Monday night. Rhett Ellison would start in his place and be on the TE2 radar. His potential upside would be capped since the Giants have all their wide receivers healthy, and Eli Manning doesnt use the tight end as much as Daniel Jones did.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay, who has one year remaining on his rookie deal, said that he is open to signing a contract extension with the team during the offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Golladay appears poised to have his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season and an extension could make him one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers. He is currently tied for sixth in the league in receiving yards (950), ranked first in touchdown receptions (nine) and is second in the league with 20.2 yards per catch. Golladay will continue to serve as Detroit's main option in their passing game and should be a WR2 or WR3 in all fantasy leagues despite the Lions' current quarterback situation.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (wrist) expects to be activated from the Reserve/Injured list in order to play in Week 14's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was designated for return from injured reserve Nov. 20, and has participated in several practice sessions since then.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku has a very favorable matchup versus the Cincinnati defense this weekend, so he can be viewed as a high-end TE2 with TE1 upside in most fantasy formats.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has been on a roll as of late and will look to stay on course against Cleveland on Sunday. Boyd racked up 10 catches on 19 targets over his previous two outings, while also adding 160 yards and two touchdowns. John Ross (chest) will be back in the picture after missing some time, but Boyd is still an acceptable option in most fantasy leagues in Week 14, especially if you have nowhere else to turn.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has started to show signs of life as the season heads into the final stretch and will look to stay on track against Cleveland on Sunday. While the Browns have been effective against the run over the last four weeks, at least on paper, by allowing a third-best 16.73 fantasy points per game to opposing backs, the 23-year-old may be the most potent rusher that they have seen since Chris Carson back in Week 6. Mixon scored his first rushing touchdown of the year against Oakland and followed that up by recording another against the Jets in Week 13. He still has some work to do from a consistency standpoint, but he will likely keep trending in the right direction throughout the remainder of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton made his return to the lineup against the Jets after a three-game absence and played relatively well, throwing for 243 yards and a touchdown on 23-for-37 passing. While the Browns Defense isn't horrible, Dalton has played historically well against them throughout his career, making his outlook more promising than usual, especially with John Ross (chest) back in the lineup. If you need a quarterback with a solid upside in Week 14, Dalton could be your guy.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel will look to build off of the efficient showing that he had against the Redskins. After struggling against the Saints in Week 12, Samuel got his act together in Week 13 by finishing with four catches for 65 yards and a score against Washington. While that wasn't the most brilliant fantasy performance that we've seen out of the 23-year-old, he has the potential to score on any given week. With Greg Olsen (concussion) out against Atlanta, look for Samuel to get some extra attention from Kyle Allen, making him a decent option in deeper formats.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been one of the most productive fantasy options as of late and will look to keep things moving against Atlanta on Sunday. After recording just one touchdown throughout his first 10 games of the season, Moore has three over the last two weeks. He hasn't been targeted less than eight times in each of his previous eight games and should retain his must-start status in all fantasy formats in Week 14.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had arguably the worst performance of the season, at least as a runner, against the Redskins in Week 13. While he had a favorable matchup against one of the league's worst defenses, the 23-year-old had just 44 yards on 14 attempts to go along with an acceptable seven catches for 58 yards. That game marked only the third time all season that he failed to record a touchdown, but he should get back on track against Atlanta after playing well against them just a few weeks ago.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen has a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Falcons Defense. Atlanta has played well against opposing quarterbacks, especially as of late, and held Drees Brees to just one touchdown toss during the Thanksgiving matchup with New Orleans, while also forcing Allen to throw four picks just a few weeks ago. The 23-year-old is a different player than what we saw after he initially took over for Cam Newton (foot) earlier in the year, and should remain out of starting lineups across the board in Week 14.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (hands) suffered a sprained left hand and also injured the index finger on his throwing hand during the team's Week 14 loss to the Chicago Bears. Prescott is not expected to miss time.
Fantasy Spin: Replays showed Prescott banging his hand on a follow through so it's hardly a shocker that he sustained an injury of some kind. Right now the expectation is Prescott will be good to go against the Rams in Week 15.
Seattle Seahawks CB Neiko Thorpe (core) underwent surgery for a sports hernia and will miss the remainder of the season, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks re-signed DB Brian Allen to the practice squad on Friday, Dec. 6.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Breeland Speaks (knee) was suspended for four games on Friday, Dec. 6. Speaks was already out of the season with a knee injury.
The Seattle Seahawks signed free agent LB Jermaine Grace (Falcons) to the practice squad Thursday, Dec. 5. In a corresponding move, DB Brian Allen was released.
Miami Dolphins CB Ken Crawley (shoulder) cleared waivers and reverted to the team's Reserve/Injured list on Thursday, Dec. 5.