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.
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.