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.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Kenyan Drake finished with four carries for 15 yards and two catches for 17 yards in a 26-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the team's second preseason game. The veteran split snaps with rookie Zamir White in the first half. Drake saw plenty of work with both Josh Jacobs and Ameer Abdullah inactive for this one. He continues to be trusted in the passing game, coming in for multiple third-down situations. This specific usage gives him more value in PPR formats, but he is still only a deep-league target in a crowded backfield. Both Drake and White will look to carve out a role behind Jacobs this season.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie running back Zamir White finished with five carries for 13 yards and two catches for four yards in the team's second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. The first-team offense did not play in this one, and the run game wasn't particularly effective. White drew the start, receiving a handful of touches on the opening drive while showing involvement in the passing game. After flashing in the Hall of Fame game, White did not show the same efficiency in his second NFL game, averaging 2.6 yards per carry. The rookie will continue to compete for a backfield role behind Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. He remains an intriguing late-round flier in fantasy drafts.
The Seattle Seahawks are acquiring wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside from the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday in exchange for defensive back Ugo Amadi, according to a source. Arcega-Whiteside will get a fresh start in Seattle after catching only 16 passes on 35 targets for 290 yards and one touchdown in his three seasons in Philadelphia after he was a second-round selection in 2019. Amadi will give the Philadelphia secondary some experience after playing in 47 games (12 starts) over three seasons in Seattle. Arcega-Whiteside has been attempting to transition from receiver to tight end, but it remains to be seen if the Seahawks view him as more of a tight end or wide receiver. Either way, fantasy managers can continue to ignore him.
The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent cornerback Mackensie Alexander to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to his agent, David Canter. Alexander was originally a second-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 out of the University of Clemson. The 28-year-old spent his first four NFL seasons in Minnesota before joining the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020. He returned to the Vikings last year and had 51 tackles (33 solo) and five passes defensed in 16 games (five starts). Alexander will provide veteran cornerback depth for the Dolphins entering the 2022 regular season.
The Baltimore Ravens activated cornerback Marcus Peters (knee) from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday less than a year after he tore his ACL in 2021. Peters is back on the practice field at training camp, but he's expected to be eased into action this summer. Peters missed all of the 2021 season as a result of his knee injury, but his return in 2022 will be a gigantic boost to a Ravens secondary that was absolutely decimated by injuries last year. The 29-year-old defensive back has made the Pro Bowl five times and is a four-time All-Pro in his six NFL seasons. Peters, a former first-round selection in 2015 by the Kansas City Chiefs out of the University of Washington, isn't on the fantasy radar in IDP leagues, but he's an extremely important piece of Baltimore's secondary.
The San Francisco 49ers released cornerback Darqueze Dennard on Monday. Dennard played in just two games last year, one with the New York Giants and one with San Francisco. Dennard was originally the 24th overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014 out of Michigan State, and he spent six solid seasons with the Bengals before playing with the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. The 30-year-old hasn't played in double-digit games in a season since his second-to-last season in Cincinnati in 2018. Dennard will be hoping to latch on with another cornerback-needy team before the start of the 2022 regular season.
Cleveland Browns starting center Nick Harris (knee) will likely need season-ending surgery on his right knee for an injury that he suffered in Friday's preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. Harris was replaced in Friday's game by Ethan Pocic, who signed a one-year, $1.187 million deal in March. Brock Hoffman, an undrafted rookie from Virginia Tech, is the only other center on the team's training camp roster. It remains to be seen if the Browns will look to re-sign JC Tretter, their starter the last five seasons, after they released him in a cost-cutting move in March. Pocic was a second-round pick in 2017 by the Seattle Seahawks, and he started 40 of his 57 games played in Seattle. It's bad news for the Browns offense, especially with quarterback Deshaun Watson's potential season-long suspension looming.
The Cleveland Browns activated cornerback Denzel Ward (foot) off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday, clearing him to begin practicing with the team at training camp. Ward wasn't able to practice with the team to begin camp this summer, but the expectation is that he'll be ready to go for the start of the regular season in Week 1. The two-time Pro Bowler finished his fourth NFL season in 2021 with 43 tackles (34 solo), three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 10 passes defensed and half a sack in 15 starts. While Ward isn't really on the radar in IDP fantasy leagues, he's a very important piece of Cleveland's secondary.
The Indianapolis Colts activated wide receiver Mike Strachan (knee) from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday. Strachan began training camp on the PUP list after having offseason knee surgery, but the Colts will now start working him into practices. In his rookie season, the seventh-round pick caught only two of his three targets for 26 yards in six games for Indy, but he'll be looking for a bigger role as a depth option for the Colts, behind the likes of Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell and rookie Alec Pierce. Strachan will be competing with Dezmon Patmon and Ashton Dulin for the fourth receiver spot in Indy to begin the 2022 season.
The Denver Broncos activated pass-rusher Randy Gregory (shoulder) off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday, according to a source. Gregory had offseason shoulder surgery and was one of the team's big free-agent signings of the offseason. The expectation is that he'll be ready for Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. The 29-year-old is likely to be eased into training camp practices and preseason games, but barring a setback with his shoulder, he should be ready for the start of the regular season. Gregory is very injury-prone and hasn't played a full season since being taken in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Dallas Cowboys, but he also had 15.5 sacks over the last three years and could be on the IDP radar if he can stay healthy all year.
The Denver Broncos signed veteran free-agent linebacker Joe Schobert to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to a source. Schobert starred for the Cleveland Browns and was most recently with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, when he recorded 112 tackles (70 solo), one interception, six passes defensed and one forced fumble in 16 games. He will help fill the void created by an injury to Jonas Griffith (elbow), who will miss at least a month of action. The 28-year-old Schobert is expected to compete for a backup spot with Justin Strnad in Denver. Schobert brings plenty of experience to an already strong Broncos defense, and he's recorded 100-plus tackles in five of his six NFL seasons.
Dynasty | Falcons rookie running back Tyler Allgeier was listed as a riser in a recent camp report Dynasty Analysis: The rookie rushed for 25 yards on three carries in his first preseason action and also had a nice blitz pickup showing that he is picking up more than just yardage on the field. As noted in the attached link, the team is going to have a make a tough cut at some point at running back but Allgeier is certain to remain. He's still expected to play behind hybrid player Cordarrelle Patterson. He's listed as DLF's RB56 and is an intriguing second-round dynasty rookie draft selection.
Dynasty | Falcons running back Damien Williams was listed as a "faller" in a recent training camp report Dynasty Analysis: Williams only managed 10 yards on three carries in the team's first preseason game and it's likely too early to make any calls on his ability to stick on the roster. The team is going to have to make a tough cut or two at the position and it means Williams or Qadree Ollison could be the first to go. Given Ollison's better performance, Williams would seem to be more on the bubble. He's very sparsely ranked as DLF's RB79.
Dynasty | Bills rookie tight end Jalen Wydermyer has been released Dynasty Analysis: It's a bit of a surprise as Wydermyer had gained a bit of a following prior to the 2022 NFL Draft and he's certain to catch on elsewhere. For now, there's no need to roster the rookie until after we see him resurface and have impact with a new team. He's unranked on DLF's tight end rankings.
Dynasty | Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu was listed as a "riser" in a recent camp report Dynasty Analysis: Nwangwu looked decisive and agile in his first preseason action as he rushed for 41 yards on seven carries while converting both of his targets for 18 yards. Fellow backfield mate Ty Chandler rushed for more yardage and also looked strong but it was Nwangwu who looked more decisive and agile. With Dalvin Cook aging and Alexander Mattison a free agent in 2023, there's change on the horizon. Nwangwu, DLF's RB76, is a well valued dynasty stash for 2023 and beyond.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph made both of his field goal and extra point attempts in the team's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders, connecting on 20-yard and 23-yard attempts in this one. The 28-year-old made 33-of-38 field goal attempts and 70-of-78 extra point attempts during the 2021 season, so he should be a reliable option for fantasy managers in 2022. After finishing as the sixth-best kicker in fantasy a season ago, Joseph seems like a safe weekly starting option as the Vikings offense should have no trouble putting him in a position to score points this season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu carried the ball seven times for 41 yards and caught two passes for an additional 18 yards in Sunday's preseason loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The second-year back out of Iowa State will look to earn a role in the Minnesota offense this season, as he carried the ball just 13 times for 61 yards in his rookie year. Nwangwu was mostly used in the return game, showcasing his game-breaking speed on multiple occasions. As of now, he seems like a safe bet to be the RB3 behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so his fantasy value could increase significantly if anyone ahead of him on the depth chart misses time this season.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Albert Wilson caught two passes for 22 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders. Wilson saw just two targets in this one as he clearly made the most of his opportunity. The former Miami Dolphin will look to carve out a role in the offense as the preseason continues, but it is hard to envision him earning a role that will make him fantasy relevant. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn are locked in as the top-three wide receivers, so Wilson will need to fend off Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Bisi Johnson for WR4 duties in the high-powered Minnesota offense. Wilson can be left off the fantasy radar for now.
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler carried the ball five times for 50 yards in Sunday's preseason loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The fifth-round pick out of North Carolina will need to continue to impress if he wants a role in the Minnesota offense, as Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Kene Nwangwu currently sit atop the depth chart. Head coach Kevin O'Connell praised the rookie after his strong performance, saying "he's pretty decisive in the run game, putting his foot down, getting north and south." Still, it is hard to envision Chandler having any fantasy value given that he is likely the fourth option in the backfield. The 24-year-old would need a lot to go his way to be considered for fantasy rosters this season.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond completed 9-of-14 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the team's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. The Texas A&M collegiate product will look to gain the edge over Sean Mannion for QB2 duties throughout the rest of the preseason, as there have been reports that the 23-year-old has struggled in training camp. However, he outperformed his competition in this one, as Mannion completed 8-of-12 passes for just 79 yards. Mond won't have any fantasy value for the time being, but if he wins the backup job and Kirk Cousins misses time this season, he could be an interesting option with the Vikings' loaded supporting cast.