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.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber did not have a rushing attempt the entire afternoon in Week 11 but was able to save his day with a six-yard touchdown catch. Barber caught 2-of-2 targets for 11 yards on the day but was totally uninvolved after scoring late in the fourth quarter with the Bucs in a deep hole. Barber's usage has continued to decrease weekly as Ronald Jones II has become the clear No.1 option in this backfield. Fantasy owners who are still holding on to Barber can drop him now. Needless to say, he will not be a recommended start in Week 12 against the Falcons.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson caught one of three targets for six yards and a touchdown in a win over the Redskins Sunday. Anderson has now reached the point in fantasy where he disappoints his owners even when he scores a touchdown as this is the second straight week he's made only one catch. Quarterback Sam Darnold just seems to have a better connection with Jamison Crowder and Ryan Griffin than with Anderson as Darnold has struggled to get the ball downfield to Anderson all season. He'll remain a boom-or-bust flex option in deeper leagues with more favorable matchups on the horizon.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 18 times for 59 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Redskins. Bell also had two catches in the game to give him 20 total touches for the seventh time in 11 games this season. This is the second straight good-not-great performance from Bell where he saved his fantasy day with a touchdown. It's fair to wonder if the Jets start to split carries more with Bilal Powell, the latter received seven carries for the second straight week. Powell averaged six yards per carry to Bell's 3.3 so they may rely more on the fresh legs more moving forward. Despite the inefficiency from Bell, his typical volume makes him a must-start RB in fantasy.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin exploded for 109 yards on five catches and scored his fourth touchdown of the season Sunday in Washington. Griffin was invisible last week in starting tight end Chris Herndon's (hamstring) only game this season. That was not the case in this one as Griffin made a major statement in the week he became the rest-of-season starter with Herndon going on IR. Griffin hasn't had much use in fantasy most of his career, but he seems to be making a real connection with Sam Darnold and is in the low-end TE1 streaming conversation next week vs Oakland.
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell carried the ball seven times for 42 yards in a win over the Redskins on Sunday. Powell added one catch for five yards as his role in the offense continues to grow. This isn't the first time we've seen the Jets use their veteran running back later in the season so Powell could very well become a usable running back in deep leagues. In standard size leagues, however, Powell's fantasy impact will likely be how much work he takes from Le'Veon Bell as this is the second straight week Powell has gotten seven carries.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II rushed for just 13 yards on four attempts, while also adding two catches for one yard in the Bucs loss to the Saints. The Bucs were down 20-0 midway through the second quarter, and that all but sealed Jones' fate for the rest of the afternoon. Fantasy owners who were looking for Jones to build off of his eight-catch, 77-yard performance in Week 10 were badly disappointed in this one, but on the positive side, Jones did out-touch Peyton Barber and looks to be the No.1 option in the Bucs backfield. Jones has a much easier matchup in Week 12 with the Falcons on deck, he will be on the RB3/4 borderline for that matchup.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold completed 19 of 30 passes for 293 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in a win over the Redskins. This is the second week Darnold was 19-for-30 passing but this one was much better for fantasy owners with the four touchdowns. Darnold has had his rough games this season, but he's taken advantage of a soft schedule lately. He'll try and stay hot in another good matchup next week at home against the Raiders.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk caught six of his nine targets for 41 yards in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11. He also gained one yard on one carry.
Fantasy Spin: Kirk has been busy in recent weeks, catching at least six passes in three of the last four games. He can be a WR3 or flex option in PPR formats.
Detroit Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel did his best on a day where the Lions Defense was nowhere to be seen, but it was ultimately not enough to get the win. Driskel completed 15-of-26 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding 51 rushing yards and a score on the ground in the Lions loss. Driskel has shown impressive mobility through two games, routinely extending plays and getting out of trouble. He was unable to play the hero in this one though. The second-year quarterback will have his easiest task of the season with the Redksins coming up in Week 12 if Matthew Stafford (back) remains sidelined, and he will definitely be a recommended fantasy option after how well he's performed against the Cowboys and the Bears. He will slot in as an upside QB2 for that matchup.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald caught all five of his targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzgerald scored for the first time since Week 11, and his yardage totals have been pedestrian. He's a WR3, at best.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough took control of the Lions backfield in Week 11, rushing 14 times for 55 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Scarbrough surprisingly out-snapped both Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic and had 14-of-19 Lions rushing attempts just one day after being promoted from the practice squad. It is very possible Scarbrough reverts back to irrelevance in the coming weeks, but with how good he looked today, fantasy owners may want to get him on their rosters. Both Johnson and McKissic have not been able to take control of this backfield, so the opportunity is there for Scarbrough. The Lions will face the Redskins in Week 12, Scarbrough will slot in as a mid-range RB3 in that matchup.
The New Orleans Saints Defense bounced back tremendously in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans recorded two sacks and four interceptions, one of which was returned 55 yards for a touchdown. The Saints took advantage of a mistake-prone Jameis Winston, as four different defenders tallied an interception. They'll take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 12 led by quarterback Kyle Allen, who just threw four interceptions of his own against the Atlanta Falcons. New Orleans will be an appealing option once again.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones had a big day in the Lions Week 11 loss to the Cowboys, catching 4-of-5 targets for 43 yards and two scores on the day. Jones proved to be a useful fantasy piece even with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel under center for the second consecutive week. The Lions did get their running game going somewhat in this matchup, and Jones did see the same amount of targets as Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay, so this likely won't keep up. The chemistry between Jones and Driskel is apparent though. Jones will slot in as a WR3 in Week 12 when the Lions travel to Washington to take on the Redskins.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith was targeted once but failed to catch a pass in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued the 23-year-old, who hasn't exceeded three catches or 50 receiving yards in four games played. He's too risky to trust right now ahead of a Week 12 matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz enjoyed a great game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11. Lutz contributed to the Saints victory by making both field-goal attempts, including a long of 44 yards, and all four extra-points. The 25-year-old has now made five field goals in a row after missing three in Weeks 7 and 8 combined. Lutz should continue to have success, given that the Saints offense seems to be back on track. He'll take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 12.
Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake rushed 16 times for 67 yards and caught six of his seven targets for 13 yards in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.
Fantasy Spin: Drake has tallied at least 16 touches in all three games since joining Arizona, and David Johnson didn't touch the ball at all against the 49ers. Drake looks like the No. 1 back in Arizona, and he should be a RB2 the rest of the way if his current usage continues.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson didn't touch the ball in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.
Fantasy Spin: Johnson was expected to have to share touches with Kenyan Drake, but Drake ended up monopolizing the backfield work. Johnson owners can only stash Johnson on the bench and hope that an injury played a part in his lack of playing time. Regardless, it seems like he has taken a backseat to Drake.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook caught both of his targets for 33 yards and a touchdown. The 32-year-old turned a slant into a 30-yard gain for his first catch. His second catch was worthy of the highlight reel, as he athletically went up top to catch a lob pass from Brees in the end zone. Cook seems to be finding his groove in the Saints offense, as he's put together back-to-back solid games. He'll look to make it a third straight solid game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 12, who have been tough on opposing tight ends this year.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught 1-of-5 targets for 34 yards in the Lions Week 11 loss to the Cowboys. Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel targeted Golladay, Marvin Jones II, and Danny Amendola the same amount of times on Sunday. Not exactly what fantasy owners were hoping for. Without Matthew Stafford (back) under center, Golladay's fantasy value takes a clear hit. He has a much more favorable matchup coming up in Week 12 against the Redskins where he'll slot in as a mid-range WR2 if Stafford remains sidelined.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 32-of-45 passes for 323 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 11 against the Buffalo Bills.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick didn't record any touchdowns, but he has a healthy passing yardage total. He remains more of a low-end QB2 in most fantasy leagues heading into Week 12 at Cleveland.