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.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught six of nine targets for 92 yards in a Week 14 win over the Detroit Lions. Diggs was able to burn Darius Slay for 44 yards on a great sideline grab to set up a Dalvin Cook touchdown before halftime. He did most of his damage in the first half as the Vikings went run-heavy with a big lead in the final two quarters. Diggs will have borderline WR1 appeal in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers, regardless of the status of Adam Thielen (hamstring).
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon couldn't get anything going in a road loss to the Packers on Sunday. After three straight games of emerging as a preferred option for Dwayne Haskins, Harmon caught just one of four targets at Lambeau. He took the lone reception for 30 yards, but this game has to be viewed as a step back for a young receiver who was starting to carve out a role for himself. There isn't enough time left in the season for Harmon to gain much PPR momentum, likely rendering him a deep-league dart throw at the very best for the final three weeks of 2019.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin rejoined the ranks of the fantasy-relevant on Sunday, catching four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Packers. It's worth mentioning that the touchdown itself--a 13-yard catch with just over a minute to go in the game--salvaged what otherwise would've been a low-end fantasy day. But his investors will take it, and the fact that McLaurin continues to see a healthy share of opportunity (seven targets) in an admittedly low-octane offense keeps him on the flex bubble. Consider him a matchup-dependent option, but he can clearly still provide value in lineups.
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell hit all three field goals and both extra-point attempts in Sunday's 23-17 win over the Cardinals. The 28-year-old has missed just twice all season, and while he doesn't always boot 50-plus yard field goals, his consistency has made him a fantasy asset for leagues that use the position. In Week 15's home game against the Bills, Boswell should have much of the same opportunities, thus making him a start-able fantasy option.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams failed to do much on his four targets as the Titans rolled to a 42-21 Week 14 victory on Sunday. He hauled in three catches for 35 yards as he's now been held to under 50 yards in five of his last six contests. With Derek Carr failing to utilize Williams' deep threat ability, he's been a fantasy non-factor over the past month and a half. Owners can afford to cut bait on the veteran, if they haven't already, as the passing offense just doesn't have enough volume to keep him afloat. Williams will be a TD-dependant WR4 next week when the Jaguars come to town for the final home game ever played in Oakland.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson hauled in seven of a team-high eight targets on Sunday against the Packers. He only produced 43 yards, but the sudden uptick in opportunity is a welcome change of pace for the pass-catching back. It's worth noting that Thompson's increased role coincides with an injury that knocked Derrius Guice out of this game, so if the latter is unable to go in Week 15, Thompson may emerge as a fringe flex play in PPR leagues. It may be worth grabbing him off the waiver wire if Guice's outlook for Week 15 is grim, just in case this opportunity is set to continue in a matchup with the Eagles.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 24-of-30 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown in Week 14's win over the Detroit Lions. Cousins rebounded from a tough Week 13 by completing 80% of his passes and finding 11 different receivers in a very efficient outing. He found rookie wideout Olabisi Johnson in the first quarter for his lone touchdown. Fantasy owners were surely expecting a bit more scoring from Cousins in this one, but the Vikings got up early and were in complete control from the get-go. Start Cousins with confidence as a QB1 in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley had seen an uptick in usage lately, but that usage was virtually non-existent in Sunday's loss to the Chargers. Conley caught just one pass for seven yards and was targeted three times. Maybe the change in quarterback was bad for Conley's fantasy value, or maybe it was just a bad day, but if you'd been counting on Conley to produce solid, low-ceiling outings in deep leagues, Sunday wasn't a good day for you.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 349 yards and five touchdowns along with a one-yard rushing score in a 48-46 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It was one of the best performances of Brees' career against an elite pass defense. He threw touchdowns to four different receivers in what was his 11th career game with five or more touchdown passes, most in NFL history. Brees even led a game-winning drive, but the Saints Defense couldn't stop Jimmy Garoppolo from doing the same. The veteran signal-caller will look to stay hot in Week 15 against an Indianapolis Colts Defense that allowed 467 passing yards and four touchdowns to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense yielded 46 points despite securing a victory in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. The ferocious pass rush couldnt touch veteran quarterback Drew Brees all day, mustering just one fumble recovery on the stat sheet. The Saints racked up 465 total yards but the Niners offense was able to respond to every blow and the team wound up with the win. After the shootout, the Niners will look to return to form hosting the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15. Theyll be a must-start fantasy unit.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was very quiet in Week 14 as he picked up two catches for 11 yards in a win over the Detroit Lions. Rudolph came into the contest on a four-game touchdown streak but was not featured at all in the victory. Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. had more snaps, catches, and yards and wideout Olabisi Johnson snagged the game's only touchdown reception. Rudolph is still best viewed as a touchdown-dependent TE2 who's touchdown equity will definitely take a hit if Adam Thielen (hamstring) returns in Week 15.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson was forced back into a featured role on Sunday when Derrius Guice suffered a knee injury. Peterson's output on 20 carries wasn't especially efficient, but 76 yards and a touchdown were welcome sights to any fantasy owner who rolled him out as a hopeful flex option. The longtime workhorse remains a volume-based fantasy back, and volume may once again tilt in his favor if Guice's injury is serious enough to keep him out going forward. As such, you will want to monitor this situation in the coming days, regardless of which Redskins running back you roster.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller picked up a team-high 73 receiving yards as the team fell 42-21 to the Titans in Week 14. He finished tied with Deandre Washington for six receptions, proving to be Derek Carr's most reliable pass-catcher once again. Waller nearly found the end zone in the second quarter but came up two yards short of the goal line. The drive ultimately ended in Foster Moreau catching a one-yard TD pass, but that was the final time the Raiders hit paydirt. The offense struggled to move the ball in the second half, which impacted Waller, but it was good to see him involved regardless. Treat the 26-year-old as a mid-range TE1 versus the Jaguars in Week 15.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense held the Arizona Cardinals to just 17 points and 236 yards of offense in their 23-17 victory on Sunday. Joe Haden picked off two passes, while TJ Watt also recorded his second interception of the season. This marks the 11th time in their 13 games that they have recorded multiple turnovers in a game. They'll have a tougher assignment in Week 15 when they host Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, but this defense might be the best in the NFL right now, so you'll start them with ease.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook caught six passes for 25 yards in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. With Gardner Minshew back under center, it was back to being one of those "Westbrook only gets targeted close to the line of scrimmage" days that makes him unplayable in standard scoring leagues. That's likely the norm the rest of the way, with Westbrook's value being mainly in deeper PPR leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Nick O'Leary caught his first touchdown since joining the Jags in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. On the day, O'Leary caught four passes for 30 yards and the score. He was targeted five times. O'Leary's been targeted at least four times in each of his games with his new team, but I still don't think fantasy owners should overreact to Sunday's score. Even at a shallow position like tight end, you aren't trusting O'Leary in the fantasy playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers Defense produced four sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception in a 20-15 win over the Washington Redskins. It was a strong effort by Green Bay- the only blemish was a late garbage-time touchdown allowed to Terry McLaurin. Packers linebacker Preston Smith got in on the fun, posting two tackles and adding a sack, giving him 11.5 for the season.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake rushed 11 times for 37 yards and caught three balls for 30 yards in Week 14. He's still receiving twice as many touches as running back David Johnson, but he's not doing much with them. Johnson caught a touchdown pass this week, and there's a big enough sample size that he could start taking touches away from Drake. Drake will be a flex option against the Cleveland Browns next week.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson rushed three times for 19 yards and caught two receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown in Week 14. He did almost as much with his five touches as running back Kenyan Drake did with his 14. With Drake struggling to make an impact, Johnson could see more touches against the Cleveland Browns next week. Keep an eye on this situation in practice this week.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught just three passes for 20 yards in Week 14. He was second on the team with seven targets, but he was unable to make his mark. Fitz is a lackluster WR3 option the rest of the way against the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.