Wed Jun 22 1:42pm ET
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots on Jan. 9, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The NFL and six of its teams have formally moved in a New York court to force a lawsuit alleging that they engaged in racial discrimination into arbitration where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would be the arbitrator. The league and the teams filed papers Tuesday, June 21, 2022, with a judge presiding over a lawsuit filed by Flores after he was fired in January as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
NEW YORK (AP) The NFL and six of its teams have formally moved in a New York court to force a lawsuit alleging that they engaged in racial discrimination into arbitration where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would be the arbitrator.
The league and the teams filed papers late Tuesday with a judge presiding over a lawsuit filed by Brian Flores after he was fired in January as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. The NFL said employment agreements with teams signed by Flores and other coaches contain provisions that require the arbitration of all disputes.
Flores now works as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He alleged in his lawsuit that has since been joined by two other Black coaches that the league engages in racist hiring practices despite its claims to the contrary.
The NFL has insisted the lawsuit is ''without merit,'' although Goodell said before the Super Bowl that ''all of the allegations, whether they were based on racism or discrimination or the integrity of our game, all of those to me were very disturbing.''
A Manhattan federal judge is unlikely to rule on the arbitration issue until late summer, at the earliest.
David Gottlieb, a lawyer for the coaches, said Wednesday that moving the case to the secrecy of arbitration was, in effect, ''stripping our clients of their rights.''
''Arbitration is privatizing the judicial branch,'' Gottlieb said. ''All we're asking for is an open and fair process.''
He said lawyers for the coaches will argue that the lawsuit against the league belongs in federal court because any agreements calling for arbitration were signed with the teams rather than the league.
In March, Flores attorney Douglas Wigdor wrote a letter to Goodell, saying ''arbitration is not transparent'' and urging him to let the lawsuit stay before a judge.
In its papers, the league argued that the discrimination lawsuit's claims were not properly before the Manhattan court because multiple arbitration agreements signed by the coaches require arbitration.
The league also defended its record on fighting discrimination, saying ''diversity, equity and inclusion are core NFL values.''
It cited its implementation nearly two decades ago of the ''Rooney Rule,'' which now requires teams to interview at least two minority candidates for any head-coach opening and at least one candidate in person.
In his February lawsuit, Flores said the league remained ''rife with racism'' and continues to deny Black coaches positions for racial reasons, making it difficult for them to become general managers, head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches in particular.
His lawsuit sought class-action status and unspecified damages. In their papers Tuesday, the league, along with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans, insisted that arbitration agreements will require the coaches to assert their claims individually.
The filing came hours before a House committee released a document alleging Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a ''shadow investigation'' to discredit former employees who claimed workplace sexual harassment. The document said private investigators were hired to intimidate witnesses and an overseas lawsuit was used as a pretext to obtain phone records and emails.
Dynasty | Tyler Huntley completed 16-of-18 passes for 109 yards with one touchdown in the Ravens preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: Of all the backup quarterbacks in the league, few are as exciting from a dynasty perspective as Huntley, who consistently shows well when given chances. Huntley has the perfect skill set to match the offense led by Lamar Jackson and would be an immediate option should Jackson ever miss time in the future. While it's hard to handcuff a quarterback in most dynasty leagues, there's some real intrigue here. Huntley remains outside our top 40, but that may change should his solid start continue throughout the preseason.
Dynasty | Tyquan Thornton had two catches for nine yards and a touchdown in the New England preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: Despite being a second round pick in the NFL Draft this off-season, Thornton has been largely ignored by the dynasty community and is currently our 25th ranked rookie. While still a shocking selection, a few more touchdowns this preseason will make Thornton a fast riser in the dynasty community. At this point, he looks like a third round pick, but he clearly looked good in his debut.
Dynasty | Titans undrafted rookie Julius Chestnut started the Titans preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: He showed well, rushing for 44 yards on seven carries. The Titans are going to keep Derrick Henry in plastic wrap the entire preseason, so the battle for the backup job behind him will be fun to watch. The story here is the fact Chestnut started over Hasaan Haskins and played better as well as Haskins could only muster 19 yards on six carries. You can't read too much into this, but it's clear Chestnut has made an impression early in camp.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mike Davis had five carries for 22 yards during the preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. He also scored a touchdown off a four-yard carry in the first quarter. With J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) both without a definitive return date, Davis may handle a majority of the snaps out of the backfield until either is ready to take the field. Tyler Badie, Corey Clement, and Justice Hill are also currently on the roster and could get some work. However, Davis has the highest upside for fantasy managers if he finds himself starting at any point in 2022-23.
Baltimore Ravens running back Tyler Badie had a team-high six carries during the preseason win over Tennessee on Thursday evening. However, he didn't do much with the opportunities he was afforded, as the rookie finished with only 19 yards. J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) don't have a clear return date. As a result, Badie could get some work immediately this season, although Mike Davis is predicted to handle the majority of the backfield duties until Edwards or Dobbins can suit up.
Baltimore Ravens running back Nate McCrary finished with five carries for a team-high 31 rushing yards during the preseason win over Tennessee. Despite the promising performance on Thursday evening, the 23-year-old still has a way to go before he earns meaningful work in 2022-23. However, if he continues to play well throughout the preseason, he has a chance to make a regular season appearance if J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee) aren't available. Still, with Mike Davis, Tyler Badie, and Justice Hill on the roster and currently ahead on the depth chart, McCrary isn't expected to see the field enough at any point this season to warrant fantasy consideration in any format.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley looked good during the preseason win over Tennessee, finishing with 109 yards and a touchdown off an accurate 16-for-18 passing. He also added three carries for 17 yards. The 24-year-old served as the team's starter last season for four games after Lamar Jackson was sidelined due to injury. While he mostly struggled, he showed promise, especially on the run. Still, Huntley probably won't see much interest from fantasy managers in 2022-23 as long as Jackson remains healthy. However, if Jackson misses time, the Utah alum is expected to move back under center to handle things as the primary signal-caller, giving him some streaming potential throughout the year.
Dynasty | Treylon Burks was held without a catch on one target in his NFL debut. Dynasty Analysis: Yikes. Burks played as the fifth receiver on the night as the Titans rested Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, then started Dez Fitpatrick and Racey McMath over both rookies Kyle Philips and Burks, who played with the third and fourth string offense. While the night was forgettable, it does show a level of concern for the young wideout, who has clearly not made a solid first impression in camp. While no opinions can be made after one night, Burks may start to slip just a touch in the rookie rankings, where he currently sits at #4 overall.
Dynasty | Malik Willis completed 6-of-11 passes for 107 yards and rushed for another 38 yards and a touchdown in the Titans preseason opener. Dynasty Analysis: While posing no legitimate threat to Ryan Tannehill right now, Willis still took advantage of the opportunity by showing off both his elite arm strength and rushing ability. Willis is a very intriguing roster stash as a quarterback who could get an opportunity at some point in the next couple of seasons. At this point, he's our 29th ranked rookie and a pretty solid pick in the third round of conventional rookie drafts and a fringe first rounder in superflex leagues.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Anthony Brown finished with 117 yards off 10-for-15 passing during the preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. He also added two carries for 14 yards. The undrafted rookie out of Oregon had an acceptable showing on Thursday night. However, he seemingly has a way to go before surpassing Brett Hundley and Tyler Huntley on the depth chart. Even if the 24-year-old makes the regular season roster, he's not expected to see any action. As a result, Brown has no value in any fantasy format, including dynasty leagues heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) still isn't a lock for the regular season opener against the Jets. Head coach John Harbaugh recently shed some light on the topic during a SiriusXM interview, commenting the next two weeks will "tell the story" regarding Dobbins' Week 1 potential. The former Ohio State Buckeye will need to show progress surrounding his surgically repaired knee, specifically its range of motion, quickness, and how it extends during strides. With Dobbins and Gus Edwards (knee) uncertain to be active to start the year, Mike Davis, Tyler Badie, and Justice Hill could see more snaps versus New York and potentially beyond.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst has already earned the respect of his new teammates. He's also been continuously touted by head coach Zac Taylor. "He's been a great matchup for us in the pass game," Taylor said of the 2018 first-round pick while speaking with ESPN's Dan Graziano, "That's something we feel like we can lean on this year." Hurst signed a one-year contract with the Bengals in March after playing four semi-unproductive seasons with the Ravens and Falcons. While Drew Sample is in the picture, Hurst has an opportunity to thrive this season by catching passes from the ultra-talented Joe Burrow. He's someone for fantasy managers to consider after guys like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle are off the board during drafts heading into the 2022-23 campaign.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. (knee) didn't take the field during Thursday's practice. Snell was seen with a wrap around his knee on Wednesday. It sounds like the 24-year-old is dealing with a minor knee issue. He is currently battling for the backup role behind Najee Harris. The Steelers recently mentioned that they want to limit Harris this upcoming season. That means, whoever wins the backup spot on the team could get a decent amount of carries. Fantasy managers should expect Snell to be back on the field within the next few days.
The Houston Texans have issued a failed physical designation to tight end Adam Shaheen. He was recently acquired with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round pick from the Miami Dolphins. That trade has now been voided and Shaheen will head back to the Dolphins roster. After this, it would be surprising to see Shaheen actually make the Dolphins final roster. Possibly, Shaheen can bounce back elsewhere, but he can remain off the fantasy radar for now.
Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III is expected to see a ton of snaps as a rookie. Head coach Pete Carroll mentioned the team would feel comfortable with Walker as a three-down back. The second-round rookie is currently competing with Rashaad Penny for the No. 1 role in Seattle. It sounds like Penny is ahead of Walker right now, but that could quickly change before the beginning of the season. Regardless, Walker is likely to make a significant impact during his rookie campaign.
New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) won't suit up for the preseason opener. The young wideout is currently dealing with a knee injury that has kept him out of practice. This doesn't sound like a serious injury, but the Giants are going to play it safe. Toney should be fine within a week, but fantasy managers should continue to monitor this situation. He could have some WR3 appeal, but it depends on if the Giants can actually get him the ball.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (groin) is unlikely to suit up for the preseason opener. He is feeling some minor groin tightness, so the organization is going to be cautious with him. This doesn't sound like a serious issue, but any soft-tissue injury is noteworthy. Kenneth Walker III will see more snaps without Penny available, but hopefully Penny won't miss significant time. Walker appears to be behind Penny on the depth chart, but there is still time for that to change.
Dynasty | Patriots running back James White has retired after eight seasons. Dynasty Analysis: One of the most underrated weapons in fantasy football, White is choosing to walk away after battling injuries over the past couple of seasons. While his career total of 1,278 rushing yards isn't exactly eye-popping, he was a PPR monster with 381 career catches for 3,278 yards and scored a total of 36 career touchdowns. His retirement could open the door for Ty Montgomery, but the Patriots backfield is always a quagmire.
Dynasty | Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams won't be ready for the season opener. Dynasty Analysis: This was pretty much expected after Williams tore his ACL in the National Championship game. Dynasty managers are going to need to be patient, though they should also be happy the Lions aren't pushing his recovery. Williams will likely miss at least the first month of the season, but he should be available to help dynasty teams towards the end of the year. He remains our overall 6th ranked rookie and that could actually prove to be a bargain.
The Cleveland Browns could look to trade for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension is to be increased after the NFL appealed the initial ruling. The 30-year-old is on the trade block after the 49ers handed the keys to their 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance, but there hasn't been a ton of interest in the veteran. With Jacoby Brissett currently in line to start in Watson's absence, Garoppolo would be an upgrade for the Cleveland offense, which in itself is a good reason to consider a trade. After posting 3,810 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021, Garoppolo can be valued as a QB2 option with a limited ceiling for fantasy managers if he is to be acquired by Cleveland.