Fri Dec 2 9:16am ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass during an NFL football practice at the team's training facility Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Deshaun Watson has a better chance of leading the Cleveland Browns to their first Super Bowl title than rebuilding his public image.
The disgraced quarterback wouldn't address his 11-game suspension for sexual misconduct or his league-mandated therapy sessions on Thursday in his first comments since returning to the Browns.
''I have been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal,'' Watson said during a 16-minute session with the media in Berea, Ohio.
Watson has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions. He has settled 23 civil lawsuits brought by the women, while two others, including one filed in October, are pending.
Still, Watson could've said he's grown as a person through counseling, that he has a better understanding of how his behavior affects others and he's striving to be the best version of himself.
Of course, few people would believe him.
Watson doesn't have many fans outside of Cleveland and he has a long way to go to win over most folks.
His actions matter more than his words, according to Rita Smith, a senior adviser to the NFL who was hired in 2014 to help shape the league's policy on domestic abuse and sexual assault.
''How I will know if he's learned anything is how he behaves in the future,'' Smith told The Associated Press. ''If he never is accused of this kind of behavior again, then we know that he's learned something that's helpful for him. Until then, what he says is kind of irrelevant.''
The 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has maintained his innocence and hasn't taken much accountability for his behavior that was labeled ''egregious'' and ''predatory'' by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
''I've always stood on my innocence and always said I've never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone, and I'm continuing to stand on that,'' Watson said in August after the NFL and the NFL Players Association reached a settlement on his punishment terms.
He then explained he was apologizing ''for people that were triggered'' by his actions.
Does he still feel the same way? Did counseling change his perspective?
The NFL made it a priority to mandate professional counseling and therapy as part of Watson's discipline so he could learn from mistakes, improve his decision-making and do better.
''It was really important for us that, No. 1, that he do some kind of sessions and that the person who is doing the sessions has an understanding of violence and abuse and trauma that we would suggest they look for to help him,'' Smith said.
Watson will face intense scrutiny everywhere: His performance on the field will be analyzed, his mannerisms on the sideline, his interactions with teammates in the huddle and his interviews with the media will be dissected.
Starting Sunday when he takes the field against his former teammates in Houston, fans will boo him, taunt and hurl insults.
''I am not worried about the atmosphere,'' Watson said. ''I have to go in and make sure I execute the game plan.''
The Browns haven't won an NFL title since 1964. They have as many winless seasons (one) as playoff victories since 1999.
Delivering a championship will be a tough task for Watson, who received a fully guaranteed $235 million contract to do it. It still may be easier than reconstructing his image.
The Tennessee Titans defense has been a steady fantasy unit this season, but a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles is cause for concern. Although Tennessee limited the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs to 40 combined points, it's tough to expect them to shut down another top offense. Tennessee should have success in stopping the run but their weakness is in the secondary, and former Titans' wideout A.J. Brown is due for a huge game in this spot. Unless the waiver wire is thin, this is the week to bench the Titans' fantasy defense/special teams.
Tennessee Titans tight end Austin Hooper has emerged as a solid third-down option for Ryan Tannehill, but he's not a strong fantasy play against a tough Philadelphia Eagles defense in Week 13. The Eagles are a top-ten unit against quarterbacks and tight ends, so the upside is limited here, and Hooper has a touchdown-or-bust outlook. Tennessee will likely try to control the game with Derrick Henry, meaning very little passing volume and upside for pass-catchers. There are likely better tight end streaming options on the waiver wire.
The Detroit Lions defense should not be considered a solid steamer in Week 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After a rough season with a ton of turnovers last year, Trevor Lawrence has settled down in year two, and the Jacksonville offense has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to fantasy defense/special teams units through 12 weeks. Detroit remains arguably the worst defense in the NFL, so there's no reason to consider streaming its D/ST this week.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry has struggled on the ground in recent weeks, but a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles could be just what he needs to get back on track. The Eagles have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs thus far and are allowing 4.7 yards per carry on the season (ninth-most). Philadelphia's secondary is strong but their front seven is struggling, so Tennessee will likely try to keep the ball in the hands of Henry. There's a chance he's starting to hit a wall as he piles up touches, but for now, he remains a must-start with plenty of touchdown upside.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is set to face the Philadelphia Eagles, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks through 12 weeks. The Eagles have a strong secondary and top-tier pass rush, so it's tough to find a path to success for Tannehill in a low-volume passing offense. Philadelphia's weakness is against the run, so expect another large workload for Derrick Henry. Tannehill hasn't rushed for a ton of touchdowns like he did the last two seasons, so his floor is also low. Unless fantasy managers are forced to start Tannehill, he's a Week 13 stay-away.
Detroit Lions kicker Michael Badgley kicks for a team with a great offense, but since head coach Dan Campbell loves to roll the dice on fourth-down his upside is often limited. This game between the Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars is expected to be a high-scoring affair and Badgley should get plenty of extra point attempts, but his field goal attempts always vary. Ultimately, there are plenty of better streaming options with just two teams on a bye week, so Badgley isn't too far up on the fantasy radar.
Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift has failed to emerge as the primary ball carrier as Jamaal Williams leads the league in touchdowns, but there were some promising signs in the Thanksgiving game against the Buffalo Bills. Swift saw eight targets and came within inches of scoring a touchdown on at least three occasions. This week, Swift hasn't been on the injury report, so perhaps he's all the way back from his early-season shoulder and ankle injury. Ultimately, his floor has proven not to be safe, but in PPR leagues, he still has upside as one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL. Detroit faces the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13, in what shapes up to be a shootout.
Detroit Lions wide receiver D.J. Chark caught just two of his five targets for 16 yards and a touchdown in his second game back from injured reserve last week, but he could be due for a big game as a big-play field stretcher. Rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams (knee) is not expected to play, so Chark will at least have one more week of fantasy relevance as the Lions' speed man. Chark will face his former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, in what could be a shootout. Both offenses are rolling and both defenses are struggling, so he has real upside in this spot. At very least, he's a strong boom-or-bust DFS play.
Dynasty | Dawson Knox has produced 17 yards of 2-of-3 receiving over his past two games Dynasty Analysis: Knox has underperformed in 2022, entering week 13 as a back end TE2 and doing little to create intrigue as we head into the fantasy playoffs. In fact, Knox has produced only two double-digit fantasy games in 2022 through week 13 compared to six double-digit performances through 14 weeks in 2021. Until proven otherwise, he is now best utilized as a bench-depth asset behind more consistent producers. He listed as DLF's TE11.
Dynasty | Bills receiver Gabriel Davis scored his sixth touchdown of 2022 in the Bills victory over the Patriots in week 13. Dynasty Analysis: Davis was a popular battleground player ahead of the 2022 season as both a sell-high and buy-low asset depending on viewpoint. With his week 13 performance in the books, he is now found as the WR23 (PPR) in fantasy arguably proving both camps correct. The 23-year-old is on pace to produce 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in his third season but only has a single 100-yard performance thus far in 2022. Found as DLF's WR28, Davis may be in for another off-season of activity in dynasty leagues for coaches seeking youth, experience and upside.
Dynasty | Mac Jones passed for 195 yards and a single touchdown in the Patriots loss to the Bills in week 13. Dynasty Analysis: Through nine games in which Jones as seen time, he has now produced 1,963 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. It's safe to say the limited bloom is already off the rose and the biggest take-away from the team's poor week 13 performance is in the apparent division between Jones' desire to push the ball downfield and new offensive coordinator Matt Patricia's "quick game" strategy, as evidenced by Jones sideline rant caught on video. Whether due to conservative play calling or lack of confidence in Jones' arm talent, Jones has slipped to no more than an emergency quarterback option in dynasty and one has to wonder if the team will give a longer look at Bailey Zappe should the team's struggles continue. Jones is listed as DLF's QB19 and is slipping.
Dynasty | Bills rookie running back James Cook produced 105 total yards on a season-high 20 touches in the team's week 13 victory over the Patriots Dynasty Analysis: The output included six receptions for 41 yards and his 20 touches were greater than Devin Singletary's 13. For the first time all season, Singletary did not have a reception. With an increasing touch count, it seems clear that the Bills have begun a rotation to Cook though both backs still factor in the committee. With Singletary a free agent in 2023, Cook is an intriguing buy-low upside target for 2023 and beyond on the chance he becomes the primary option. He's now found as a rising RB28 on DLF's running back rankings.
Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams leads the NFL with 13 touchdowns, so he's become a must-start, especially in a matchup with a struggling defense. Jacksonville is a middle-of-the-pack rushing defense, but this game is expected to be somewhat of a shootout, and Williams should dominate goal line touches once again. There are some fantasy players to avoid that are merely touchdown-or-bust guys, but since Williams is in a top-tier offense and is called upon nearly every time the Lions are in short-yardage situations, the upside is too strong to bench him. Even if D'Andre Swift or Justin Jackson eat into his workload, he'll maintain the valuable role inside the five-yard-line.
The New England Patriots' defense/special teams allowed 355 yards of total offense in Thursday's 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Josh Uche stood out in Thursday's defeat. Uche recorded the team's only two sacks on seven pressures and a forced fumble during Thursday's loss. New England has been one of the top fantasy defenses over the last five weeks, allowing 20 points or less during that span. However, New England has allowed 59 points over the previous weeks. Despite the recent struggles, fantasy managers can use the Patriots' DST as a streamer against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is coming off of one of the best performances of his career, catching nine of 10 targets for 122 yards and a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. St. Brown has drawn double-digit targets in five of his nine full games played and at least eight targets in eight of the nine full games played. He's a PPR monster who has underrated YAC skills, so he continues to be a must-start. This Lions-Jaguars matchup sets up to be a shootout with two red hot offenses and two struggling defenses. Jacksonville has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to wide receivers thus far.
New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk made his only field goal attempt, and extra-point try in Thursday's 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He drilled his only attempt from 39 yards during the fourth quarter to reduce Buffalo's lead 24-10. The 38-year-old is 25-for-30 in field goal attempts and a perfect 24-for-24 over 12 games in 2022. Folk has been one of the more reliable fantasy kickers due to New England's offensive struggles in the red zone. Fantasy managers can use Folk as a streamer against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff is set the face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position through 12 weeks. Goff has had plenty of explosive weeks in the context of a great Lions' offense, insert him in lineups with confidence. With the Lions' and Jaguars' offenses breaking out in a big way, this contest has shootout potential since both defenses are bottom-of-the-barrel units. Jameson Williams (knee) isn't expected to play, but the rest of the Lions' weapons are finally healthy.
The defense of the New York Giants likely isn't worth starting in Week 13 versus the Washington Commanders. The Commanders aren't an offense that strikes fear in any defense, but with Taylor Heinicke under center, they haven't been turning the ball over much. Also, the Giants only have 20 sacks this season (tied for sixth-fewest in the NFL) and they've allowed 27-plus points in three of their last four games. Even with Washington not having a dynamic offense, New York's defense is probably worth keeping on your bench in Week 13.
New England Patriots defensive back Marcus Jones caught both targets for 51 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The 24-year-old contributed on both offense and defense in Thursday's loss. Mac Jones completed a screen pass to Jones, who took it to the house for a 48-yard touchdown. He also registered a pass defense in Thursday's defeat. Jones is the jack of all trades and contributes on offense, defense, and special teams, but despite the tremendous performance, he is not on the fantasy radar against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.
New York Giants kicker Graham Gano is a solid kicking option in Week 13 versus the Washington Commanders. The veteran kicker converted both of his field goals and both of his extra-point tries in Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys. Even though it's not expected to be a high-scoring affair between the Giants and the Commanders, sometimes those are the games when kickers are more productive as neither team can get into the end zone. There are likely better kicking options available in Week 13, but in deeper leagues, Gano is a fine kicker to start against the Commanders.