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Regular Season, Updated: 9/6/2021

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Legend:   Upside = Upside   Risk = Risk   ADP = Average Draft Position
FF Today Standard Scoring: Review Scoring
 Kirk Cousins, MIN (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 214   DOB: 1988-08-19   Age: 33
College: Michigan State   Draft: 2012 Round 4 (7) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018MIN16425 606 4,298 30 10 44 123 1 353.2 22.1
2019MIN15307 444 3,603 26 6 31 63 1 296.5 19.8
2020MIN16349 516 4,265 35 13 32 156 1 374.9 23.4
2021 (Projected)MIN 364 536 4,180 29 14 54 152 1 346.2  

Outlook: What do you get when you mix a historic rookie receiver with the 29th ranked defense? You get Kirk Cousins having one of the best statistical seasons of his career and a top-12 finish at an extremely deep fantasy position, that's what!

With little defense to speak of and rookie Justin Jefferson putting up all-time numbers for a 1st year player, Cousins and this offense were forced into a fair share of shootouts. Just look at how bad it got during the 2nd half of the year, where in the final eight games Cousins was forced to throw a ton, securing 20 touchdown passes and throwing for over 2,400 yards. The 7-9 Vikings finished out of the playoffs largely because of a porous defense. Very reminiscent of the early parts of his career when he was mainly a stat compiler, what can we expect from Cousins in 2021?

I still believe that head coach Mike Zimmer wants this to be a tough, run-based offense as evidenced at the start of last year when Cousins failed to reach 30 pass attempts in any of the first four games. The problem? The Vikings went 1-3, and eventually the defense broke down so much, that Cousins only had two more games over the final twelve where his attempts were in the 20's. Say what you will about Zimmer's philosophy, but he's going to get his way with the promotion of 33-year old Klint Kubiak to offensive coordinator. The son of former OC Gary Kubiak, Klint is far more experienced than most 33-year old coaches, but has seen scant duty as a play caller, and it remains to be seen how much power he will have to paint outside the lines of his father's offense. The other variable is the defense. If Zimmer wants a run-based attack, he's going to need gigantic improvement from the defense, but I'm not sure the improvements to the D-line (Dalvin Tomlinson, Sheldon Richardson, and the return of Danielle Hunter) will be enough to fix a leaky secondary that really only added an aging Patrick Peterson. In the end, this offense will likely need and should pass more than Zimmer wants, and because of the elite tools at his disposal, Cousins has a shot to return QB1 value as low-investment.

 Matt Ryan, ATL (Bye: 6)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1985-05-17   Age: 36
College: Boston College   Draft: 2008 Round 1 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018ATL16422 608 4,924 35 7 33 125 3 416.7 26.0
2019ATL15408 616 4,466 26 14 34 147 1 348.0 23.2
2020ATL16407 626 4,581 26 11 29 92 2 354.3 22.1
2021 (Projected)ATL 377 579 4,230 25 12 38 113 1 328.8  

Outlook: Despite leading the league in pass attempts and ranking fifth in passing yards, Ryan was just a borderline QB1 in 2020. Hurt by the loss of his top target Julio Jones (missed seven games and was hobbled in two others), a suspect offensive line, and a general lack of mobility from the pocket, he and the Falcons offense were frustratingly inconsistent. But with five 300+ yard games and eight multi-TD games, Ryan was just good enough for owners to consider each week, especially during the bye weeks.

Entering 2021, Jones is gone. So is HC Dan Quinn. But new head man Arthur Smith seems to have convinced GM Terry Fontenot that Ryan has at least a couple years left. The veteran signal caller has a re-structured contract and no significant competition in the QB room beyond AJ McCarron and rookie free agent Feleipe Franks. The team also invested a couple draft picks on the interior of the o-line, and added perhaps the most dynamic skill player in this year's draft in Florida TE Kyle Pitts.

Though Smith was a decidedly run-first guy in his previous stop as OC in Tennessee, there's no Derrick Henry on this roster, and while Fontenot used some serious draft capital to upgrade the defense, we're still not sure the pass rush and the defensive backfield are quite there yet, which means Ryan could once again be trying to throw his way to victory every week. With top targets Calvin Ridley, Pitts, Russell Gage, and TE Hayden Hurst able to align just about anywhere on the field, Ryan and the passing attack have the potential to be explosive.

Ryan may not get off to a blazing start as all the new pieces come together, but as we approach midseason, don't be surprised if he starts putting up some serious numbers, provided everyone stays healthy.

 Matthew Stafford, LAR (Bye: 11)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 232   DOB: 1988-02-07   Age: 33
College: Georgia   Draft: 2009 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018DET16367 555 3,777 21 11 25 71 0 280.0 17.5
2019DET8187 291 2,499 19 5 20 66 0 207.6 25.9
2020DET16339 528 4,084 26 10 29 112 0 319.4 20.0
2021 (Projected)LAR 374 585 4,330 27 10 24 87 0 333.2  

Outlook: The Rams offensive line was notably terrible in 2019, but it took major steps forward in 2020 and should now be considered one of the better units in the league. Many had used offensive line struggles as a reason for Jared Goff's struggles at quarterback, but unfortunately the improvements in front of him did not translate into success for the QB, who the team has now moved on from.

Seemingly finally admitting the reality that the Goff draft pick was a bust, the Rams made the move to acquire another former No.1 overall NFL Draft pick, Matthew Stafford. One of the biggest problems with Goff was that he didn't push the ball down the field, so a move to the big-armed Stafford should - at least theoretically - give the Rams a more vertical offense. Stafford was without Kenny Golladay for most of the 2020 season but still finished close to the top of the league in average target distance.

The Rams lost Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett which isn't great, but neither of those players was a significant contributor this past season. 2020 rookie Van Jefferson should see more playing time and he probably has more upside than Reynolds at this point, so there's a realistic possibility that the Rams weaponry is about equal to what it was a season ago.

With second-year back Cam Akers now out for the season, look for the Rams to pass the ball more heavily in 2021, which should actually lead to more points scored for the team as a whole. This would be a nice boost for Stafford, who has spent his recent seasons stuck in a lackluster situation, behind bad offensive lines, with nervous playcalling and against defenses that were able to play hyper aggressively against the Lions. Los Angeles' elite defense should put Stafford in a better average starting position on drives than he's been used to in Detroit, which would also indicate a higher likelihood for scoring.

The only real negatives, from a fantasy standpoint, for Stafford are that he's entering a new offense which doesn't always translate into immediate results, and that he remains one of the league's least-mobile quarterbacks. We've seen players like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan and even Jared Goff deliver top-half QB1 seasons without contributing much of anything on the ground, but we also know that those performances are becoming increasingly more rare by the year. With that said, Stafford is a relatively safe option, especially where he's being drafted at the moment. He's going outside of the top-12 QBs on many fantasy ADPs so he's a QB2 for most owners. If you're taking a shot on a player like Jalen Hurts, for example, Stafford might be an ideal complement to deliver a safe backup option in case Hurts does flame out this season.

 Trevor Lawrence, JAC (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1999-10-06   Age: 21
College: Clemson   Draft: 2021 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2021 (Projected)JAC 344 555 3,883 22 15 88 389 2 333.1  

Outlook: The folks in Jacksonville are hyped about their new QB, and we get it. At 6-5 he boasts prototypical height, has a strong, accurate arm, and the athleticism to not just make plays with his legs, but extend plays and escape from pressure, which may be his most important attribute in Year 1. Simply put, the guy's a winner who has lost only two games since the start of high school. He's a leader and a playmaker who averaged just under 30 TD passes per season at Clemson. For all the above reasons, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Lawrence isn't under center for the Jags in Week 1, no matter how well former starter Gardner Minshew plays.

However, Lawrence is an NFL rookie playing at QB. All indications are he has the work ethic and the game IQ to fully grasp the offense and perform under pressure. But make no mistake, he will struggle, and new HC Urban Meyer isn't going to be afraid to sit his generational talent if he struggles too much, especially with Minshew standing next to him on the sideline. It's also important for fantasy owners to understand who they're dealing with here. Meyer is, and always has been, a run-first guy. The same goes for OC Darrell Bevell, and even passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Don't be surprised if all three of those guys, trying to protect and develop "The Franchise" for the long term and lean heavily on those run tendencies in 2021.

Of course, there is reason to be high on Lawrence, for fantasy purposes and otherwise. He's a better runner of the football than he's given credit for, and Meyer has a reputation for scheming to the strengths of his QB dating all the way back to Alex Smith at Utah. The RPO will be part of this attack, and with that, Lawrence becomes a legitimate dual threat. But the rookie learning curve and a run-first offense are going to put a cap on his ceiling out of the gate. I'm calling him a mid to low end QB2 for now who could be worth a shot in the second half of the season if he progresses as expected.

 Derek Carr, LV (Bye: 8)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 214   DOB: 1991-03-28   Age: 30
College: Fresno State   Draft: 2014 Round 2 (4) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018LV16381 553 4,049 19 10 24 47 1 289.2 18.1
2019LV16361 513 4,054 21 8 27 82 2 306.9 19.2
2020LV16348 517 4,103 27 9 39 140 3 345.2 21.6
2021 (Projected)LV 351 532 4,152 26 10 27 95 1 327.1  

Outlook: Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr quietly finished just outside QB1 range in 2020 and was even a mid-range QB2 in fantasy points per game. Carr threw for a career-high 4,103 yards while maintaining an impressive three-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio, nearly leading the Raiders to a playoff berth.

Unfortunately, Carr lost his top receiver from 2020 in Nelson Agholor, but the real question is - did Agholor suddenly become a truly quality receiver, or did Carr and the Raiders offense just elevate him to look like that? Agholor had been considered a bust by just about everyone prior to landing in Las Vegas and now after the one season where he actually looked competent making plays down the field, the team opted to not re-sign him. This would seem to indicate that the Raiders are content with what they have at pass catcher, especially after signing veteran field stretcher John Brown. Of course, it's easy to have some confidence when you've got one of the league's best tight ends on the roster, that being Darren Waller, who has now put together back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons.

Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards are now entering their second seasons and should have a better grasp on not only the offense, but also their respective roles. Both players were disappointments as rookies for varying reasons, but it's hard not to believe that Jon Gruden at least has some sort of an idea of what he's doing, as the Raiders have been able to put together top-12 offenses in terms of total yardage in back-to-back seasons, despite a seeming lack of high-end skill position players.

Carr lacks the mobility and the Raiders lack the offensive firepower for Carr to realistically finish as a quality QB1 in fantasy, but he's being disrespected a bit by fantasy gamers right now. He's currently going off the board in the 20s at the quarterback position - an ADP that he will almost certainly exceed. Sure, he's not an exciting pick and he won't win you a fantasy league, but he's a decent second quarterback in 2QB and Superflex formats, especially considering that he doesn't have much competition at all behind him.

 Sam Darnold, CAR (Bye: 13)
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 221   DOB: 1997-06-05   Age: 24
College: Southern California   Draft: 2018 Round 1 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018NYJ13239 414 2,865 17 15 44 138 1 231.1 17.8
2019NYJ13273 441 3,024 19 13 33 62 2 245.4 18.9
2020NYJ12217 364 2,208 9 11 37 217 2 180.1 15.0
2021 (Projected)CAR 327 527 3,845 23 14 54 277 2 324.0  

Outlook: Carolina GM Scott Fitterer exercised the 5th year option on Darnold's contract this Spring, guaranteeing his $18.9M salary for 2022 and pretty much signaling to the entire NFL that, for better or for worse, the Panthers have hitched their wagon to the 4th-year pro out of USC for the immediate future.

We think it will be for the better, certainly for Darnold. Now playing for a front office and coaching staff that support him, Darnold has been surrounded this offseason by an endless compliment of linemen and offensive skill players he couldn't have dreamed of in New York. RB Christian McCaffrey is expected back at full health, Darnold will be reunited with WR Robby Anderson (95 catches for 1,096 yards and 3 TD in 2020), who he played with his first two years with the Jets, and he will be the beneficiary of the playmaking ability of WR DJ Moore, who is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons. The draft yielded productive slot WR Terrace Marshall from LSU (10 TD in 2020) and RB Chuba Hubbard from Oklahoma State, and the o-line got much needed help in free agency and the draft.

So does all this make Darnold a viable fantasy option? Well, let's pump the brakes for a minute. With more weapons and better protection than he's had at any time in his career, and a dynamic play caller in OC Joe Brady, Darnold will be better. But understand that Carolina's first objective is to support Darnold and him in position to have success. That means limiting turnovers that have plagued his career and putting points on the board for the offense. If that requires running the ball early in the season, they'll do it. If it means playing max protections to settle him down, then that will be part of the game plan. If Darnold has to spend the first weeks of the season as a game manager handing the ball to McCaffrey, so be it.

The long and the short of it is Darnold will have to grow into the offense and build confidence, and that won't happen right away. But by the time the bye weeks roll around, it might be worth taking a peek at how he's progressing. He has the ability, and now the weapons and the coaching to develop into a borderline QB2 by the second half of the season.

 Daniel Jones, NYG (Bye: 10)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 221   DOB: 1997-05-27   Age: 24
College: Duke   Draft: 2019 Round 1 (6) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019NYG13284 459 3,027 24 12 45 279 2 287.3 22.1
2020NYG14280 448 2,943 11 10 65 423 1 239.5 17.1
2021 (Projected)NYG 319 515 3,656 22 13 65 395 2 322.3  

Outlook: 2021 is a make-it-or-break-it year for the former first-round pick from Duke after a disappointing injury-riddled sophomore campaign in which Jones ranked 31st at the position in fantasy points per game.

Jones has all of the skill weapons he needs to succeed, with the addition of big-money WR Kenny Golladay and the drafting of Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. The question is can the offensive line hold up, and can Jones stay healthy.

From a fantasy perspective, there is a lot to like for a guy who threw 24 touchdowns in just 13 games as a rookie while adding an impressive 702 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in his first 27 NFL games. Jones rushed for more yards than Josh Allen last season, despite the fact that he was limited with leg injuries and played in just 14 games.

Turnovers continue to be an issue for Jones, with six lost fumbles and ten interceptions in 14 games in 2020. While those numbers are alarming, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson had more turnovers (albeit in two more games).

As our No.20 ranked QB, Jones is an upside streaming option and someone you can target in super-flex leagues as a player with boom or bust value. If he returns to his rookie form and blossoms with Golladay and Toney, Jones could be a great value in drafts. If he continues to be limited with injuries and a poor TD rate, he could be benched mid-season.

 Trey Lance, SF (Bye: 6)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 226   DOB: 2000-05-09   Age: 21
College: North Dakota State   Draft: 2021 Round 1 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2021 (Projected)SF 179 280 2,074 13 6 64 321 2 199.8  

Outlook: While the 49ers are content with starting their season under the leadership of veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo, the writing is on the wall that we'll eventually see them make the move to the player they moved up to select at No.3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

Lance was an absolute superstar in his one full season as a starter in college, throwing for an impressive 28 touchdowns while maintaining an absurd zero interceptions that season. Perhaps more importantly for fantasy, though, Lance lit up the highlight reels with his work on the ground as he ran for 1,100 rushing yards as a sophomore and 14 touchdowns. Despite his excellent passing numbers, Lance was not shy to run the ball, as he rushed 169 times in his sole 16 game season as a collegiate starter.

Unlike smaller quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson, Lance has the size to sustain a bit more of a beating, which could mean even more rushing for him than some expect in the NFL. It's hard to compare any prospect to Josh Allen, but Lance seems to fit that mold more closely than almost any other quarterback in the league right now. He has tremendous upside as a fantasy asset; he possesses a huge arm to go along with excellent athleticism. This is the kind of quarterback that can be a true difference-maker in fantasy, but he has to earn the starting job.

The biggest concern about Lance is that the 49ers seem hell-bent on heading into the season with Garoppolo as their starter. Certainly we've seen teams move on to their young quarterbacks in the past, but it rarely happens unless the team itself is performing poorly or the quarterback is just looking horrible. Considering that the 49ers won six games with the league's most injured roster in 2020, there's a high likelihood that they'll be competitive enough that they end up waiting until deep in the season to turn things over to Lance, if at all this season.

If he does get the chance to play, Lance should be an immediate waiver wire addition in just about any league. His upside is that of a weekly QB1 for fantasy and his legs could carry him to that as soon as right away. This is an offense built for a player like Lance with a dominant rushing attack, some incredible downfield weapons, and some bruising pass catchers who make their money after the catch. The sky is truly the limit for this potential future elite fantasy QB.

 Baker Mayfield, CLE (Bye: 13)
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 215   DOB: 1995-04-14   Age: 26
College: Oklahoma   Draft: 2018 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018CLE14310 486 3,725 27 14 39 131 0 307.4 22.0
2019CLE16317 534 3,827 22 21 28 141 3 311.5 19.5
2020CLE16305 486 3,563 26 8 54 165 1 304.7 19.0
2021 (Projected)CLE 336 534 3,950 25 10 43 153 1 318.8  

Outlook: Sure, the final fantasy numbers and rank for Mayfield's last two seasons are nearly identical, but by every metric, and the famous "eye test", Mayfield was an infinitely better player during the 2020 season. Credit new head coach Kevin Stefanski with designing an offense that played off Mayfield's strengths (timing throws out of the pocket, and play action), as the 3rd year pro cut his interceptions by 60%, improved his completion percentage, and overcame a shaky start to the year by leading his team to the 2nd round of the playoffs. So what does the gunslinger from Oklahoma have for a follow-up in 2021?

For the first time in a long while there are true expectations clinging to the Browns and Mayfield. After a near run to the AFC title game last season, many expect this team to compete for a shot at the Super Bowl. The return to health of OBJ and the resigning of Kareem Hunt are the big "additions" to an offense that returns largely intact. Mayfield found a comfort zone in this offense last year and righted a career on the brink, but that's the negative in this fantasy equation. Despite the quality season by NFL standards, we judge numbers here in the fantasy world, and by the important ones, Mayfield was no better than 17th in the NFL in attempts, completions, and yardage and 13th in touchdown passes. Stefanski's offense made great use of the play action, as Mayfield was very effective on deep throws on run fakes. Therein lies the problem. This is a run-first offense led by perhaps the best tailback duo in the NFL. The mauling run game allows Cleveland to control tempo, limit turnovers, and churn the clock late in the game. While the return of OBJ will give the passing game juice (if he stays humble in his role), I'm not sure it's enough to push Baker into the QB1 category. With such depth at the position, and little to offer as a runner, I think Mayfield tops out as a strong fantasy back-up.

 Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 241   DOB: 1982-03-02   Age: 39
College: -   Draft: 2004 Round 1 (11) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018PIT16452 675 5,129 34 16 31 98 3 420.3 26.3
2019PIT235 62 351 0 1 1 7 0 18.3 9.1
2020PIT15399 608 3,803 33 10 25 11 0 323.3 21.6
2021 (Projected)PIT 343 536 4,022 29 11 6 9 0 318.0  

Outlook: When I started college way back in the mid 90's I had a real junker of a Volkswagen Rabbit. Poop brown, and barely able to accelerate on the highway, it was a nightmare in several ways. It was my first ever car, so there was some sentimental value, and I didn't have much extra spending money, but I realized it was time to move on into something that wasn't going to spontaneously fall apart. Why start my first player outlook of the 2021 season with this vehicular-based aside? I see a direct correlation between that car, Ben Roethlisberger, and the Steelers. Playing the role of the poop brown Rabbit is Big Ben, who despite finishing with the 4th 30+ touchdown season of his career, failed to be able to carry this offense down the stretch. Instead of cutting bait and trying to retool a deteriorating roster, the Steelers instead brought back Ben, drafted a running back in Round 1, and seemed determined to try and keep pace with the young guns in the division. Will the old vet find his mojo in likely his last season for the Steelers, or will the wheels truly and finally come off a few miles down the highway?

Roethlisberger's surgically repaired elbow was much worse than many believed, and it was evident he spent 2020 compensating and slowly getting back into form. He finished 33rd in the NFL in yards-per-completion with a 9.5 average as the offense transitioned from a big-play, down the field scheme, to become reliant on slants and screens. Throw in a complete lack of any running game, and an offensive line that got old in a hurry, and the Steelers looked downright pathetic, losing four of their final five games of the year after starting 11-0. The offense failed to reach 20 points in a three-game December stretch, and Ben turned the ball over 4 times in the first half during an embarrassing Wild Card loss to the Browns.

While Brady is a spry-looking 44 year-old, Roethlisberger is a grizzled, rickety 39. The quick, short passes allowed Pittsburgh's offensive line to look better on paper than it might have been, and they return ZERO players who started Week 1 of the 2020 season. DeCastro and tackle Kevin Dotson are building block players, but some younger guys are going to have to step up, as there were no meaningful additions to this unit in the draft. At this point in his career Big Ben is a complementary player, and I just don't feel great about him completing the season. I think the Steelers ride Harris to protect a fading defense, and take one more shot before the inevitable rebuild, making Roethlisberger a low end QB2.

 Justin Fields, CHI (Bye: 10)
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 228   DOB: 1999-03-09   Age: 22
College: Ohio State   Draft: 2021 Round 1 (11) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2021 (Projected)CHI 271 460 3,172 17 9 75 337 2 272.3  

 Ryan Fitzpatrick, WAS (Bye: 9)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1982-11-24   Age: 38
College: Harvard   Draft: 2005 Round 7 (36) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2018TB8164 246 2,366 17 12 36 152 2 213.5 26.7
2019MIA15311 502 3,529 20 13 54 243 4 304.8 20.3
2020MIA9183 267 2,091 13 8 30 151 2 183.7 20.4
2021 (Projected)WAS 372 563 3,943 23 12 48 223 1 317.5  

Outlook: In a shared role with Tua Tagovailoa last season, 36-year-old journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 2,091 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games for Miami, with eight interceptions and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Although he was not great for fantasy at 18.1 points per game, his propensity to hyper-target wide receivers and force the ball downfield has many people anticipating a monster season for Terry McLaurin and a strong first year with the team for newly signed Curtis Samuel.

Fitzpatrick signed a 1-year, $10 million deal to be a bridge starter this season for whomever the Football team views as their long-term solution in the draft or their QB room.

Washington boasts a strong defense and ground attack, which could limit the number of passes for Fitzpatrick and reduce his ceiling. However, he is a solid QB2 in super-flex formats and a streaming starter in plus matchups, assuming he doesn't go too crazy with his gun-slinging ways and get benched for Taylor Heinicke.