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FFL: Playoff Week 2 | NFL: Week 15

Bills-Dolphins Preview

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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.''

TRENDING FORWARD

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.''

TRENDING BACKWARD

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.

MAKING DO

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.''

BALL HAWK

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.

RISING ROOKIE

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.

Player Notes
David Njoku Dec 15 2:53pm ET

Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku has been declared inactive for the team's Week 15 game. Njoku did not look sharp during practice this week and struggled with drops and some routes during the week, according to the Associated Press' Tom Withers.

Fantasy Spin: Njoku recently returned from the Reserve/Injured list but appears to need more time to return to game speed. Demetrius Harris likely will serve as the starting tight end but can be avoided in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Adam Thielen Dec 15 2:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) is listed as active for Week 15's matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers. This was expected as Thielen completed a full week of practice. He will return to a favorable matchup as stud cornerback Desmond King will not play and the Chargers rank 20th in pass DVOA for the season. The Vikings passing game has been rolling as of late and they project to have to throw in this game as they're favored by just one point. Obviously, Thielen comes with some risk as he's returning from a lengthy injury absence, but he can be utilized in fantasy lineups as a high-end WR3 with sneaky upside in this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Jayron Kearse Dec 15 2:43pm ET

The Minnesota Vikings have declared RB Alexander Mattison, DE Hercules Mata'afa, OT Aviante Collins, DE Jalyn Holmes, SS Jayron Kearse, OL Olisaemeka Udoh and OG Dru Samia inactive for Week 15.

From TheHuddle

Mike Glennon Dec 15 2:43pm ET

The Oakland Raiders have declared QB Mike Glennon, OT Trent Brown, DL Olsen Pierre, LB Kyle Wilber, CB Daryl Worley, WR Hunter Renfrow and OT David Sharpe inactive for Week 15.

From TheHuddle

Sylvester Williams Dec 15 2:43pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers have declared DL Sylvester Williams, CB Desmond King, OT Trey Pipkins, QB Easton Stick, S Roderic Teamer, WR Jalen Guyton and OG Spencer Drango inactive for Week 15.

From TheHuddle

David Njoku Dec 15 2:43pm ET

The Cleveland Browns have declared WR Taywan Taylor, LB Olivier Vernon, OT Drew Forbes, TE Pharaoh Brown, DL Justin Zimmer, CB Eric Murray and TE David Njoku inactive for Week 15.

From TheHuddle

Tramon Williams Dec 15 2:13pm ET

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers CB Tramon Williams (head) has been cleared to return to the Week 15 game after being checked for a concussion.

From TheHuddle

Mike Daniels Dec 15 2:03pm ET

Detroit Lions DT Mike Daniels (arm) suffered an arm injury during the Week 15 game and is considered questionable to return.

From TheHuddle

Alex Okafor Dec 15 1:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (chest) suffered a chest injury during the Week 15 game and will not return.

From TheHuddle

Tyler Ervin Dec 15 1:33pm ET

Green Bay Packers RB Tyler Ervin (hand) suffered a hand injury during the Week 15 game and is considered questionable to return.

From TheHuddle

Tramon Williams Dec 15 1:33pm ET

Green Bay Packers CB Tramon Williams (head) left the Week 15 game early and is being evaluated for a concussion.

From TheHuddle

Jameis Winston Dec 15 12:50pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (thumb) is officially active for Week 15 against the Detroit Lions. Winston wasn't able to throw a football in practice until Friday, though he was able to finish off last week's 456-yard, four-touchdown performance with the injury. Winston has a great chance to stay hot against Detroit's suspect pass defense. Fantasy owners must beware the risk- Winston can be erratic even without a fractured thumb.

From RotoBaller

Damien Williams Dec 15 12:40pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs, illness) is inactive for Week 15 against the Denver Broncos. Darwin Thompson, LeSean McCoy and Spencer Ware will shoulder the load for Kansas City. The Chiefs backfield isn't an ideal fantasy situation, though McCoy, who's had success running in snowy conditions, and Thompson are probably the safest choices.

From RotoBaller

Bo Scarbrough Dec 15 12:20pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough (ribs) is officially inactive for Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Scarbrough wasn't able to practice on Thursday or Friday, so it was likely a longshot for him to play anyway. Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic, and practice-squad call-up Wes Hills will lead the backfield in Scarbrough's absence. All are shaky plays, considering Tampa Bay possesses the league's best run defense.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker Dec 15 12:13pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (concussion) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.

Fantasy Spin: Parker has been playing well during the second half of the season and should continue to be the main option in the passing game for the Dolphins. He will have a favorable matchup and can be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Jimmy Graham Dec 15 12:03pm ET

Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (groin, wrist) is active for Week 15's game against the Chicago Bears.

From TheHuddle

Mohamed Sanu Dec 15 12:03pm ET

New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) is officially active for the team's Week 15 game.

Fantasy Spin: Sanu has posted disappointing numbers since joining the Patriots but should have a favorable matchup this week. He could be a flex option in some deeper leagues but can also be benched if fantasy players have better options available.

From TheHuddle

Mike Adams Dec 15 12:03pm ET

The Houston Texans have declared CB Cornell Armstrong, WR Keke Coutee, WR Steven Mitchell, RB Taiwan Jones, DL Joel Heath, DT Eddie Vanderdoes and FS Mike Adams inactive for Week 15.

From TheHuddle

Will Fuller Dec 15 12:00pm ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) is officially active for Week 15 against the Tennessee Titans. When healthy, Fuller has been a difference-maker, averaging 7.6 targets and 74 receiving yards per game. He possesses considerable upside and could be worth a start in what should be a competitive divisional game. Fuller's presence is also a boost to quarterback Deshaun Watson's stock for this contest.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Dec 15 12:00pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) is active for Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Edelman was optimistic about playing, though it's nice to get the official word. He's a must-start considering his eight-game streak with double-digit targets and the fact that Tom Brady doesn't seem to trust any other receiver in this offense right now.

From RotoBaller