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.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson tied for the team lead in catches in Week 15, coming down with five catches for 62 yards. He was targeted seven times, good for second on the team. Johnson made some big plays in this one and should be primed for another good game next week against the Jets secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Nick Vannett played well in Week 15, catching five passes for 40 yards. He was targeted six times. With Vance McDonald (concussion) forced to miss the game, Vannett was the main tight end for the Steelers offense. His five catches tied for the team lead in catches. He'll be a solid TE2 with a decent floor for as long as McDonald is out.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense was okay against the Buffalo Bills in a Week 15 loss. They allowed 17 points, but recorded a sack and an interception. The Steelers defensive unit will have a better matchup in Week 16 against a scuffling New York Jets team. They'll be a solid fantasy option for fantasy championship week.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges did not play well in a Week 15 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Hodges completed 23 of his 38 pass attempts for 202 yards and one touchdown. He threw four interceptions, some at critical times in the game. The Steelers take on the Jets next week and should fare slightly better through the air, but Hodges still won't be much of a fantasy option for the fantasy championships.
The Buffalo Bills Defense was excellent in a Week 15 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. They recovered a fumble, collected four interceptions, allowed just 10 points, and got four sacks. It was an all-around impressive performance by Buffalo, who will have a tougher contest next week against the New England Patriots.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner ran the ball just eight times in Week 15, gaining 42 yards. He added four catches for nine yards and a touchdown. Conner's touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Devlin Hodges. Despite his success on the ground (5.3 ypc), the Steelers kept the ball in the air far too often in this game. Conner will face the Jets next week and should at least get more than eight rushing attempts.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington caught five passes in Week 15, gaining 83 scoreless yards. Washington was targeted 11 times, which led the Steelers. His five catches tied for the lead on the team with two other players, and his 83 yards were tops on the team as well. It was an overall strong game by Washington against a tough Buffalo Bills Defense. He'll have the Jets Defense to deal with next week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown caught seven passes in a Week 15 win, gaining 99 yards. Brown led the team in both catches, targets, and yards, all by a huge margin. Brown had an excellent start to the season but had faded a bit in previous weeks. Given the tough matchup against the Steelers Defense this week, he was not a widely recommended fantasy option. He played very well however, and could surprise again next week despite an incredibly tough matchup against the New England Patriots.
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft caught his only target in a Week 15 win over the Steelers, coming down with a 14-yard touchdown. The Bills did very little in the passing game outside of John Brown, but Kroft's touchdown was a critical one, helping to send the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in a while. Kroft won't be a fantasy option next week against the New England Patriots.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley was targeted six times in a Week 15 win, but caught only one pass for just six yards. Beasley was somewhat hyped coming into this one, but did next to nothing. The Bills passing game in general didn't really do anything outside of John Brown, however. Beasley gets an even tougher matchup next week against the New England Patriots.
Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake rushed 22 times for 137 yards and four touchdowns and caught one pass for nine yards in a 38-24 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: After a couple of lackluster outings, Drake erupted for the best game of his career. He has become a workhorse since being acquired by Arizona, logging at least 14 touches in all six games. He'll be a fringe RB2 option with upside against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary ran the ball 21 times in a Week 15 win, piling up 87 yards. He also caught two passes, but gained just two yards total. Singletary was solid in this one but didn't make any huge plays against a tough Steelers Defense. He was certainly the featured back though, out-touching Frank Gore 23-10. He'll have a tough matchup against the stout Patriots run defense next week on Saturday.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was responsible for two touchdowns in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He completed 13 of his 25 pass attempts for 139 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also ran the ball seven times for 28 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His passing score came on a 14-yard pass to Tyler Kroft and his rushing score came on a one-yard scamper. Allen led his team to a win against a tough Steelers Defense, but it certainly wasn't his best fantasy performance of the season.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore ran the ball 10 times in a Week 15 win, gaining just 15 yards total. Gore was thoroughly out-touched and out-played by Devin Singletary, who gained 89 total yards on 23 touches. It'll be an even tougher matchup next week against the New England Patriots, where Gore shouldn't be much of a fantasy consideration.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry caught five of his eight targets for 23 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: It was Landry's lowest yardage total of the year, and it couldn't have come at a worst time with the fantasy playoffs in full swing. He could be in a for another rough outing in Week 16 when he faces the Baltimore Ravens.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight of his 13 targets for 66 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham delivered one of his better games of the year, and while it was encouraging to see him targeted 13 times, he is going to have a hard time backing up this performance in Week 16 when he faces a Baltimore defense that held him to 20 yards earlier in the year.
Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb rushed 17 times for 127 yards and a touchdown and caught all three of his targets for 21 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb continues to be one of the steadiest backs in the league, and he is up to seven 100-yard rushing efforts on the year, including three in his last four games. He's a plug-and-play RB1.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt rushed four times for 14 yards and caught eight of his nine targets for 62 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Nick Chubb is the top dog in Cleveland's backfield, but Hunt typically sees about 10-15 touches and has been able to stay in the flex conversation in PPR formats thanks to his involvement in the passing game.
Minnesota Vikings running back Mike Boone had a great game in Week 15's blowout win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The undrafted second-year back out of Cincinnati rushed 13 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the win, finding the end zone for the first time in his young career. Boone worked as the lead back in the second half with starter Dalvin Cook (shoulder) out, and he looked just as explosive as he did when he dominated in the preseason this year. Cook was ruled out very quickly and Alexander Mattison (ankle) could be looking at an extended absence, as evidenced by the Vikings signing Tony Brooks-James to their practice squad last Wednesday. Boone is a priority pickup with Cook and Mattison ailing as he would be squarely on the RB2 radar in Week 16 if they are both ruled out. Stay tuned for updates on all three Vikings' backs.
The Minnesota Vikings Defense stepped up in a big way in Week 15's 39-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. They tallied a whopping seven takeaways (three interceptions and four fumble recoveries), three sacks, and a touchdown as the Chargers looked flustered all game long. The most notable play was Danielle Hunter's strip-sack and forced fumble that was scooped by Ifeadi Odenigbo and returned 56 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The defense took control of this game from the get-go, but the secondary continued its stretch of subpar play and Xavier Rhodes was replaced by Mike Hughes for a good portion of the game. The Vikings Defense will be a risky option in Week 16's home matchup with the Green Bay Packers.