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.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams has disappointed fantasy owners so far in the second half of the season. He's been held to under 50 receiving yards in five of his last six games, and hasn't eclipsed triple-digits since Week 1. Williams has also gone six straight games without a touchdown, making him hard to trust versus the Jaguars this week. The Jacksonville defense has allowed the 13th fewest points to the position this season and has notably been burned on the ground in recent weeks. The Raiders will undoubtedly keep their run-first mentality, creating even less volume for the team's pass-catchers. Williams is a TD-dependant WR4 for Week 15, and shouldn't be trusted for the fantasy playoffs.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller has put together back-to-back productive games after a disappointing month and a half. He's caught 13 of 15 targets for 172 yards in the two-game sample, proving to be the only fantasy relevant pass-catcher on the offense. The Jaguars are a middle of the pack defense versus the position, but did give up two touchdowns to the Chargers last week. The Raiders, however, are expected to attack on the ground and play with a comfortable lead for the final home game ever in Oakland. This could affect Waller's volume, but his high-target share keeps him in the TE1 discussion.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will take the field for the final time in front of the hometown Oakland fans this Sunday versus the Jaguars. Emotions will be running high with an electric stadium expected, but Carr shouldn't be trusted for your fantasy playoffs. His matchup is on the favorable side, but the offense funnels through the run game, which makes it difficult for the 28-year-old to receive enough opportunities to be trusted. The Raiders are also 6.5 favorites against the worst-run defense over the last four weeks, so expect the Raiders could run away with this one. The stars are aligning for a low-volume game for Carr, making him a desperation QB2 for Week 15.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (quadriceps) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.
Fantasy Spin: Jackson has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL all season and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Thursday, Dec. 12.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews (knee) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.
Fantasy Spin: Andrews suffered the injury last week but likely will receive his normal workload in Week 15. He should be a starting option in all leagues this week.
The New York Jets have declared DL Quinnen Williams, OL Chuma Edoga, RB Bilal Powell, CB Brian Poole, WR Demaryius Thomas, S Jamal Adams and CB Arthur Maulet inactive for Week 15.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) was declared inactive against the Baltimore Ravens Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas scored his first touchdown of the season last week, but he isn't a safe enough option to be a consideration during the fantasy playoffs, even if he's able to return for Week 16.
The Baltimore Ravens have declared WR Jaleel Scott, CB Anthony Averett, OT Ronnie Stanley, OG Ben Powers, DL Justin Ellis, QB Trace McSorley and DB Chris Board inactive for Week 15.
Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (pectoral, thigh) and LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DT Antwaun Woods (knee), G Zack Martin (elbow, ankle), P Chris Jones (abdomen), CB Byron Jones (hip), OT La'el Collins (knee) and DL Michael Bennett (foot) were limited. S Jeff Heath (shoulder), RB Tony Pollard (ankle), OT Tyron Smith (Achilles) and S Darian Thompson (biceps) participated in full.
San Francisco 49ers TE Garrett Celek (back), DL Dee Ford (quad, hamstring), DL D.J. Jones (ankle), CB Richard Sherman (hamstring), S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), DT Jullian Taylor (elbow) and CB K'Waun Williams (concussion) didn't practice Thursday, Dec. 12. WR Dante Pettis (knee) was a full participant.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzgerald has been a solid option in the passing game over the last month and should see a handful of targets this week. He could be a possible flex option in deeper leagues.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (hand) remained a full participant in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Prescott should be good to go for the game Sunday, Dec. 15, against the Los Angeles Rams. He's a mid-tier QB1 against the Rams.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (knee) participated in full at practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Cooper will likely face the defensive coverage of Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, and we've already seen him completely shut down by a top corner in New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore earlier this season. Fantasy managers should expect a below-average performance.
Buffalo Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander (non-injury), RB Frank Gore (illness), DE Jerry Hughes (non-injury) and OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DT Corey Liuget (knee) and DT Jordan Phillips (knee) were limited during practice.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip) was limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Landry has been a consistent option for fantasy players this season and will continue to receive plenty of targets in the passing game. He should be at least a No. 3 receiver this week.
Los Angeles Chargers LB Thomas Davis Sr. (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Dec. 12. LB Uchenna Nwosu (ankle) was limited. LB Drue Tranquill (elbow) practiced in full.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (knee) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku will have a favorable matchup this week against the Arizona Cardinals and can be a low-end No. 1 tight end in fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Kirk should have a decent chance to play in the Week 15 game, but fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation over the next few days. He can be a No. 3 receiver or flex option in leagues if he plays.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel has lived up to his second-round billing in recent weeks and remains a steady WR3 in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. Over his last five contests, Samuel has either surpassed 100 scrimmage yards or scored a touchdown, becoming an instrumental piece of the offense. Even with veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders reassuming No. 1 receiver status, Samuel has continued finding ways to make an impact. Against an Atlanta Falcons Defense ranked 26th in DVOA, there should be ample opportunities for all Niners playmakers.