Mon Jun 27 2:53pm ET
By JUAN A. LOZANO
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Carson, Calif. The Houston Texans had been told that their former quarterback Deshaun Watson was sexually assaulting and harassing women during massage sessions, but instead of trying to stop him, the team provided him with resources to enable his actions and turned a blind eye to his behavior, according to a lawsuit filed Monday, June 27, 2022. Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans had been told that their former quarterback Deshaun Watson was sexually assaulting and harassing women during massage sessions, but instead of trying to stop him, the team provided him with resources to enable his actions and ''turned a blind eye'' to his behavior, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
The lawsuit against the team was filed in Houston by one of the 24 women who had previously sued Watson over allegations of sexual misconduct when he played for the Texans. Last week, the women's attorney, Tony Buzbee, announced 20 of the 24 lawsuits have been settled.
Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. Watson is facing discipline from the NFL over the allegations. He is set to have a hearing this week with NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who will decide if the 26-year-old violated the league's personal conduct policy. Robinson is expected to rule before the Browns open training camp late next month.
In their lawsuits, the women accused Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments. One woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex.
The lawsuit against the Texans accuses the team and some of its employees of having been told or being aware of Watson's troubling behavior. Joni Honn, the owner of a massage company that was contracted with the Texans, told police investigators that her therapists were aware of Watson's ''known tendency to push boundaries during massage sessions,'' according to the lawsuit.
Honn told the Texans, including the team's head trainer, that Watson was reaching out to random women on Instagram for massages in early 2020, according to the lawsuit.
Magen Weisheit, another massage therapist who worked with the Texans, told Houston police investigators she and others were well aware of Watson's conduct during massage sessions. When Weisheit learned of the allegations made against Watson by a woman who filed the first lawsuit against him, she wrote in a text to the woman's former co-worker that she could reach out to the team's player personnel person but ''they don't do much about the situation though,'' according to the lawsuit.
''Despite being actually aware of what can only be described as troubling behavior, the Houston Texans turned a blind eye. Worse, the Houston Texans organization enabled Watson's egregious behavior. The Texans also protected and shielded Watson - for Watson's own protection and the protection of the organization itself,'' according to the lawsuit.
The woman's lawsuit alleges the Texans provided Watson with various resources, including rooms at a Houston hotel, massage tables and a non-disclosure agreement the women were told to sign, that allowed the quarterback ''to further his misconduct with women by turning the massage sessions into something sexual.''
The Texans are also accused of having their head of security remove from the internet an Instagram video from November 2020 in which a woman had detailed alleged misconduct by Watson during massage sessions with her.
In a statement, the Houston Texans did not specifically address the various allegations made against the team.
''We are aware of the lawsuit filed against us today. Since March 2021, we have fully supported and complied with law enforcement and the various investigations. We will continue to take the necessary steps to address the allegations against our organization,'' the Texans said.
Buzbee said the lawsuit against the Texans was the first of many he plans to file against the team.
''Suffice it to say, the overwhelming evidence collected indicating that the Houston Texans enabled Watson's behavior is incredibly damning. We believe the Texans knew or most certainly should have known of Watson's conduct,'' Buzbee said in a statement.
The NFL declined to comment on the lawsuit against the Texans.
''I never assaulted anyone,'' Watson said June 14 in his first public comments since being introduced by the Browns in March. ''I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything.''
In March, two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.
Houston police Detective Kamesha Baker, the lead investigator in the criminal investigation, told Buzbee in a deposition that she believed Watson had committed crimes in the 10 criminal complaints that had been filed against the quarterback. Baker also said that Watson's conduct during the massage sessions was escalating in such a way she believed that he would commit even more serious crimes, according to the lawsuit.
After the grand juries declined to indict, several teams pursued Watson, who agreed to be traded to the Browns. Cleveland signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a five-year, $230 million contract in March.
The four lawsuits still pending against Watson could still go to trial, but that wouldn't happen until 2023 at the earliest.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the team's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders. Cousins will be away from the team for a minimum of five days, so he can rejoin the team at some point next week. In his absence, backup quarterbacks Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond should see the most action against the Raiders on Sunday to battle it out for QB2 duties behind Cousins. Once he returns to action, the veteran should be able to provide fantasy managers with low-end QB1 numbers in the Vikings' new pass-heavy offensive scheme. With Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn at his disposal, Cousins is a great late-round target for those who like to wait on drafting a quarterback.
Dynasty | Eagles running back Miles Sanders could be primed for a "monster year" if he can remain healthy Dynasty Analysis: That statement could define Sanders' career thus far. Instead, the running back continues to slide down dynasty rankings due to his inability to remain on the field. But, once again, it's Sanders who has been standing out at camp and, as of this writing, he remains healthy. The team also will rely on Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell behind Sanders, either of which could play a prominent role if Sanders finds his way to the trainer's table as has become the expectation. Undrafted rookie Kennedy Brooks has also been mentioned and has upside as a potential three-down capable back should lightning strike. For Sanders, DLF's RB28, has the ability to well outplay his ranking but dynasty coaches are clearly in "prove it" mode.
Dynasty | Eagles receiver Jalen Reagor is in good shape and has been consistent in camp Dynasty Analysis: The third-year receiver is in a true make or break season and is fighting to be the WR3 with Quez Watkins. For Reagor's first two seasons, inconsistent routes, drops and inability to separate from press coverage were all too common as the former Twitter darling began to slip down rankings. Now ranked as DLF's WR101, he's in danger of falling completely from the dynasty radar and may have upside appeal given his low ranking and expectations.
Dynasty | 49ers second-year running back Trey Sermon has improved Dynasty Analysis: Sermon was a fast-riser following his 2021 draft selection but quickly fell out of favor in the Bay Area and, subsequently, in dynasty as well. The 23-year-old is found as DLF's RB55 and is buried on the 49ers depth-chart though still seems to be in the mix for a role behind starter Elijah Mitchell, the surprising 2021 sixth-round rookie who won the starting job outright, handily beating out Sermon. Sermon has a long road to any fantasy viability and any acquisition will require significant patience and may not be rewarded until his next contract. He's a cheap deep-roster stash for patient dynasty coaches.
New York Giants running back Antonio Williamsconcluded Thursday's preseason win over the New England Patriots with 61 rushing yards and a touchdown on a team-high nine carries. The 24-year-old is listed as the No. 4 running back on the depth chart of the New York Giants, so he doesn't provide any value in fantasy football unless multiple injuries occur. Seeing that Williams is buried behindSaquon Barkley,Matt Breida, andGary Brightwellon the depth chart, it isn't a guarantee for him to even make the 53-man roster for the Giants. That being said, a strong showing from Williams on Thursday does increase his chances of potentially climbing up the depth chart. Fantasy managers should monitor Breida's status with the team to determine whether or not Williams could become a backup option to Barkley.
New York Giants quarterbackDaniel Jones and the starting offense played the entire first quarter in Thursday's preseason 23-21 win over the New England Patriots. Jones finished with 69 passing yards and six rushing yards while completing six of his 10 aerial attempts. The Giants moved the ball pretty well, and they likely would've scored a touchdown on the first drive if Kenny Golladaydidn't drop a third-down pass. With the arrival of former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, there are higher expectations for Jones and New York's offense in 2022. Despite Jones not being the most prolific passer, he does give late-round upside at the quarterback position due to his ability to create with his legs. It was a solid start to the preseason for Jones, as it remains to be seen how much action he'll see in Week 2 of the preseason against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Giants signed quarterback Tyrod Taylor as the backup to starterDaniel Jonesthis offseason. In Taylor's preseason debut for the Giants, he aired it out for 129 yards and a touchdown while completing 13 of his 21 pass attempts. The veteran signal-caller helped New York secure a victory over the New England Patriots in the exhibition contest on Thursday night. It is a do-or-die year for Jones in 2022 as he enters his fourth year in the NFL. Suppose Jones fails to perform well for an extended period during the regular season. In that case, Taylor could instantly become a viable streamer at the quarterback position in fantasy football due to his dual-threat upside.
New York Giants wide receiver Collin Johnsonsurprisingly led all wide receivers on the team in receptions and yards in Thursday's preseason victory over the New England Patriots. The former fifth-round pick hauled in seven passes for 82 yards on eight targets. Johnson saw a decent amount of action with the starters on Thursday due toKadarius ToneyandWan'Dale Robinsonbeing inactive. Once Toney and Robinson see the field,Kenny Golladay, Toney, and Robinson will be the top three wideouts forDaniel Jonesto target in the passing game. Not to mention,Saquon Barkleywill have a decent-sized role in the aerial attack out of the backfield. It will take an injury to one of Golladay, Toney, Robinson, and potentiallyDarius Slaytonfor Johnson to be relevant in deeper fantasy football leagues.
New York Giants wide receiverRichie JamesJr. corralled three receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's 23-21 preseason win over the New England Patriots. The Giants were withoutKadarius ToneyandWan'Dale Robinson in Thursday's preseason opener, leaving more opportunities for the other wideouts on the roster. James was among the wide receivers to take advantage of more playing time. The 26-year-old was second in the receiving yards and caught a seven-yard touchdown strike from Tyrod Taylor in the second quarter. He is currently buried deep on New York's depth chart, with Kenny Golladay, Toney, Robinson,Darius Slayton, andCollin Johnsonseemingly ahead of him. If Slayton or Johnson were to be released or traded, there could be an opportunity for James to see the field on offense. But unless any roster moves happen, it's hard to imagine a scenario where James is worth rostering in fantasy football this season.
Dynasty | Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens has been a star in training camp Dynasty Analysis: Pressed into more first-team work due to the recent hold-in of Diontae Johnson and a minor inury to Chase Claypool, Pickens has soaked up the snaps and responded well. The author went as far to say: "Honestly, I've never seen a rookie this good this early. We all know he has to transfer that to preseason games, but I would be shocked if he didn't." It wasn't long ago that the team was saying Pickens wasn't expected to be leaned on in his rookie season but it seems his athletic profile and play have just been too good to keep off the field. Expectations must be kept in check for the rookie and DLF's WR43, but his fast start and impact thus far in training camp are positive signs not only for his rookie year impact, but his long term dynasty potential.
Dynasty | Ravens rookie tight end Isaiah Likely produced 44 yards on 4-of-4 receiving in his first game action of 2022 Dynasty Analysis: It was a good start for the rookie who didn't play with the starters on Thursday night. We normally wouldn't highlight the play of a backup tight end but Likely has been said to have a big role in 2022 as the Ravens return to a run-first scheme and will rely on two tight end sets early and often. Mix in the fact the team has few proven receiver assets behind sophomore Rashod Bateman, somewhat unproven himself, and Likely could see material targets. Unranked on DLF's tight end rankings, the rookie plays in a tight end friendly system and could factor heavily should starter Mark Andrews suffer an injury.
Dynasty | Veteran Steelers backup quarterback Mason Rudolph has been the best of the group during training camp Dynasty Analysis: While Mitchell Trubisky is said to still be the expected starter come week one of the regular season, it's Rudolph who has been the most accurate and most consistent thus far in camp. Neither quarterback factors highly in DLF's dynasty rankings but Trubisky has been the late-round flyer on the chance he can hold off rookie Kenny Pickett for the entirety of 2022. Instead, Rudolph could be a sneaky acquisition for deep-roster superflex players on the chance he sees time with the first-team during the regular season. In either case, it's the rookie Kenny Pickett who should be targeted for the long term.
Tennessee Titans running back Hassan Haskins carried the ball six times for 19 yards and added three receptions for 29 yards in his preseason debut on Thursday. The fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft will look to build on a decent showing in his first game, as he looks to earn playing time in a backfield that features Derrick Henry and Dontrell Hilliard above him on the depth chart as of now. The 22-year-old could be on the fantasy radar in deeper leagues as some insurance for Henry, but figures to be nothing more than a handcuff option for the time being.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Racey McMath led the team with 48 receiving yards in Thursday's 23-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. It took him all of one target to do this, as the 23-year-old caught a 48-yard bomb from quarterback Malik Willis. McMath turned some heads at training camp, as the LSU collegiate product has been getting open downfield and making plays. He will look to carve out a role in a thin wide receiver room with Robert Woods and Treylon Burks leading the way, but he is off the fantasy radar as of now when you consider Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Philips are also in the mix for playing time.
New England Patriots running back Kevin Harris rushed six times for nine yards and a touchdown while catching one of two targets for minus two yards in Thursday's 23-21 preseason loss to the New York Giants. He averaged 1.8 yards after contact per attempt but salvaged his fantasy day by rushing a three-yard score during the third quarter. The sixth-round pick entered the game after J.J. Taylor but surprisingly saw the field before fourth-round pick Pierre Strong Jr. James White retired on Thursday, leaving a void on third downs for New England; the 21-year-old will have a chance to compete for that role. Harris will have to beat Ty Montgomery, Strong, and Taylor for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Tennessee Titans running back Julius Chestnut was impressive in his preseason debut, leading the team with 44 rushing yards on seven carries while adding one catch for 12 yards in Thursday's 23-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The undrafted free agent will look to earn himself a role in the offense, however, it could be a tall task considering he will need to fight off Derrick Henry, Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins, and Jordan Wilkins for playing time. As of now, it looks like the 21-year-old will at best be the fourth option out of the backfield, putting him well off the fantasy radar for now.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis completed 6-of-11 passes for 107 yards and added 38 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown in his preseason debut on Thursday. His longest completion of the night went for 48 yards, with his largest gain on the ground going for 17 yards. Willis showcased some of his electrifying skills in this one and will look to build on a solid showing in the team's second preseason game against the Buccaneers. However, Ryan Tannehill still figures to be the starting quarterback for the Titans, which only puts Willis on the fantasy radar in dynasty formats as of right now.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Logan Woodside completed 14-of-24 passes for 102 yards in Thursday's 23-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. It wasn't the best showing for the 27-year-old, as he threw two interceptions and finished with a 33.7 passer rating. Woodside will look to redeem himself in the team's next preseason game against the Buccaneers, where he will be fighting for the No. 2 position on the depth chart with rookie Malik Willis. Ryan Tannehill is penciled in as the team's QB1, so Woodside is well off the fantasy roster for now.
New England Patriots running back Pierre Strong Jr. rushed six times for 25 yards and caught his only target for no gain in Thursday's 23-21 preseason loss to the New York Giants. He led the Patriots in rushing with 25 yards, but came on the field after J.J. Taylor and Kevin Harris. James White retired on Thursday, opening up vital third-down role. Strong was solid on Thursday, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The fourth-round pick will look out a role in New England's backfield, but will need to beat out Ty Montgomery, Kevin Harris, and Taylor for a spot on the 53-man roster.
New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton caught both his targets for nine yards and a touchdown in Thursday's 23-21 preseason loss to the New York Giants. Patriots wide receivers DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, and Nelson Agholor got the day off. The 22-year-old caught a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter to put New England on the board. He may have to work his way up to WR4 on the depth chart, but he had a solid debut and is a speculative add in deep-league formats. Thornton was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Patriots to help stretch the field and will look to build on Thursday's performance in the team's second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.