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.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (wrist) said he is 'very' optimistic that he'll be healthy enough to play when he's eligible to return from the Reserve/Injured list in Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: There's all manner of upside with Njoku, who would make an interesting stash candidate in larger leagues.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones (groin) is expected to miss at least one week after leaving the game Monday, Nov. 11, against the Seattle Seahawks due to a groin injury.
Atlanta Falcons RB Brian Hill played 51 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday, Nov. 10, in the win over the New Orleans Saints. The bulk of Hill's work came with RB Devonta Freeman (foot) out of the game.
Fantasy Spin: With Freeman expected to miss multiple games and backup Ito Smith (neck) already out for the year, Hill will have a big role in a nice matchup against the soft Carolina Panthers run defense. He should be a top waiver priority this week.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams played 72 percent of the offensive snaps in the Week 10 loss against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Nov. 10. RB Darrel Williams played just 21 percent with RB Darwin Thompson getting a total of five offensive snaps. RB LeSean McCoy was a healthy scratch.
Fantasy Spin: Williams' 109 yards from scrimmage were the second-most he's racked up in a game and came on the heels of a season-high 125 rushing yards last week. He didn't find the end zone for the first time in three weeks, but it was a heavy workload and he lived up to the task. Fantasy managers who took a chance on him this year seem like they'll be rewarded down the stretch run.
Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage played 82 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday, Nov. 10, against the Indianapolis Colts. RB Patrick Laird played just eight offensive snaps with RB Myles Gaskin playing five total snaps (all on offense).
Fantasy Spin: Ballage ran the ball 20 times but for a very disappointing 43 yards. He caught all four of his targets but for just two yards. It was the Dolphins' second straight win but it remains highly doubtful there'll be many more of these. If he wasn't successful in Week 10, it's unlikely he will be.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt played 54 percent of the offensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Nov. 10, but starter Nick Chubb played a three-week high of 81 percent in the 19-16 victory. RB Dontrell Hilliard played just eight offensive snaps for his lowest total since Week 5.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb ran 20 times for 116 yards while catching two of four targets for just five yards. Hunt totaled 74 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches with seven receptions and four carries. It's quite possible both could be effective fantasy options in the same games, but Chubb remains the definitive No. 1 option.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson has put together a solid rookie campaign with 30 receptions, over 360 yards, and three touchdowns. In Thursday night's game against the Cleveland Browns, Johnson will work to stay in the sights of quarterback Mason Rudolph. However, Rudolph has been favoring shorter routes recently, which puts Johnson at a bit of a disadvantage. Although Johnson's big-play ability gives him value as a touchdown-dependent WR4 in Week 11.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry drew criticism from head coach Freddie Kitchens Tuesday, Nov. 12, for the 15-yard taunting penalty he took Sunday, Nov. 10 against the Buffalo Bills. 'I don't like penalties,' said Kitchens. 'I don't like penalties. I want him playing with passion, though, not emotion, but passion.'
Fantasy Spin: Landry had one of his best games of the season by catching nine of 10 targets for 97 yards and finding the end zone for the second straight week, but the penalty set up the missed 48-yard extra point by PK Austin Seibert.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has just 12 receptions for 170 yards and one touchdown in his last four games. With a Thursday Night football matchup against the Cleveland Browns in Week 11, Smith-Schuster shouldn't be considered the reliable option many drafted him as. Quarterback Mason Rudolph has been favoring shorter to intermediate routes, which should favor the USC product, but the numbers haven't followed. Look at Smith-Schuster as a touchdown-dependent WR2 against Cleveland.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington is coming off the best consecutive performances of his young career. He's hauled in 10 of 11 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown in the last two games, and he seems to be redeveloping a connection with his college quarterback Mason Rudolph. He'll face off against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night and has a chance to build himself more opportunities in the offense. View Washington as nothing but a WR4 in deeper leagues, as he still has some room to prove his fantasy worth.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) was a full participant in Tuesday's practice, all but confirming he's good to go for Thursday night's road game against the Cleveland Browns. After missing the last two contests, Conner has been missed on offense, as the Steelers have combined for just 132 rushing yards in that span. Against the Browns, Conner should help open up the offensive gameplan by reassuming the lead-back role. Look at the 24-year-old as an RB2 against a defense that allows 19 fantasy points per game to running backs.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels steps away from the lead-back role with the expected return of James Conner (shoulder) in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns. Over the last two games, Samuels turned 38 touches into just 123 yards and no touchdowns, so it's clear he's not suited for four-down work in this offense. Against the Browns on Thursday, the NC State product isn't very fantasy appealing as Cleveland has allowed just 40 receptions to running backs this season, the ninth-fewest in the NFL. Since Conner is likely returning, Samuels is best left on fantasy benches in Week 11.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph gets a favorable matchup for Thursday Night Football when the Steelers travel to take on the Cleveland Browns. Rudolph has been gaining more confidence with each start, and his 242 yards passing last week were the second highest of his short career. Against the Browns, the second-year signal caller faces a defense that allows an average of 23 fantasy points per game. Rudolph can be considered a low-end QB2, especially in the early game of the week. You could do worse, but you could certainly do better for a streaming option.
Free-agent QB Colin Kaepernick (49ers) shared a message on Twitter Tuesday, Nov. 12, addressing the previous reports of the league-arranged free-agent workout Saturday, Nov. 16. 'I'm just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I've been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can't wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday,' Kaepernick wrote.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) will seek a second opinion on his reaggravated sprained ankle. Breida only accrued 25 yards on 12 touches in Week 10 before exiting in the second half. Breida is no stranger to playing injured but NFL Networks Tom Pelissero believes he could miss some time to let it heal. Breidas absence would benefit third-string back Raheem Mostert who flashed promise earlier this season when Tevin Coleman was hurt. Mostert would be a risky but upside flex play in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals if Breida is inactive.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis is running out of time to prove his worth in head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. 'The more he doesn't take advantage of his opportunities, the less opportunities he gets,' Shanahan said Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Pettis, a second-year pro, has caught just 11 of 24 targets this season for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He shouldn't be on rosters in anything shallower than 14- or 16-team leagues.
Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (hamstring) has a 'legit' hamstring injury, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Seattle Seahawks TE Ed Dickson (knee) was close to being activated off of injured reserve this past week and will return for Week 12 following the team's bye, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Nov. 12.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) are considered day-to-day and shaping up as game-time decisions in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals. Kittle and Sanders figure to practice minimally this week, if any. Kittle missed Week 10 and his injury appears serious but head coach Kyle Shanahan refrained from ruling out the warrior. Sanders suffered a rib cartilage injury on Monday night and the severity is unknown. Without their top aerial playmakers, the biggest gainer could be wideout Deebo Samuel. The rookie amassed 112 yards on eight catches in Week 10 and was clearly the most electric player amongst Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Samuel will be a hot waiver commodity and slots as a WR3 if both Kittle and Sanders cant go.
Updating a previous story, San Francisco 49ers DL Ronald Blair (knee) will undergo season-ending surgery for his torn ACL, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Nov. 12.