Fri Aug 12 6:59pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warm up before an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson apologized Friday ''to all the women I have impacted'' after being accused by two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.
Watson, who is facing a potential year-long NFL suspension, spoke before Cleveland's exhibition opener in Jacksonville - his first game since Jan. 3, 2021, with the Houston Texans.
Watson was suspended six games earlier this month by independent arbiter Sue L. Robinson, who concluded he violated the league's personal conduct policy with ''egregious'' and ''predatory'' behavior.
As part of her decision, the retired federal judge noted Watson's lack of remorse.
Watson was asked in a pregame TV interview for his response to Robinson's position that he hasn't been contrite.
''Look, I want to say that I'm truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,'' Watson said in the interview. ''The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back, but I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward.''
Watson was accused of sexually harassing or assaulting the women during the therapy sessions in 2020 and 2021. He has always denied wrongdoing and grand juries in two Texas counties declined to indict him on criminal complaints.
The three-time Pro Bowler settled 23 of 24 civil lawsuits.
However, he's still facing discipline from the league, which appealed Robinson's penalty and is seeking a full-season ban along with a significant fine over $5 million and for Watson to undergo evaluation and treatment before he could be reinstated.
The appeal is now with Peter C. Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
There's no timetable on Harvey's decision. It's also possible the sides could work out a settlement. On Thursday, a person familiar with Watson's defense told AP that the 26-year-old would agree to an eight-game suspension and $5 million fine.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the high-profile case.
Watson has continued to practice and was excited about making his debut with Cleveland, which traded three-first-round picks to Houston for him in March and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract.
Depending on Harvey's ruling, Watson could be away from the Browns for an extended period. He was asked what kind of personal growth he hoped to make.
''I know I have a lot of work to put in, especially on the field to be able to make sure I'm ready to play whenever that time comes whenever I can step back on the field,'' he said. ''But also, the biggest thing is I want to continue counseling and I want to make sure that I'm growing as a person, as an individual for my decision-making on and off the field.
''I want to make sure that I'm just evolving in the community as much as possible, and that is for the Cleveland community, that is the NFL community and beyond.'' ---
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Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery will enter the 2022 regular season without a contract extension, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. The Bears are being patient and will wait to see how he looks this season before offering a potential contract. The Iowa State product has looked decent through three years in the NFL. After a strong 2020 campaign, he took a step back in 2021, totaling 849 rushing yards, 301 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns through 13 total games. He should be viewed as a mid-range RB2 heading into 2022.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London exited Friday's preseason game with a knee injury and will not return, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Fans will now have to hold their breath for the remainder of the game before we find out whether his absence is merely a precaution or if he's dealing with a more serious injury. The No. 8 pick out of USC had an impressive 24-yard catch and run on the Falcons' first drive of the game versus Detroit. He should be viewed as a WR3 in all formats and has plenty of upside, especially in dynasty leagues.
New England Patriots running back Pierre Strong Jr. was among Chad Graff's list of players trending down following Thursday's preseason loss to the New York Giants. Although the rookie led the team in rushing, most of his usage came on the final drive with the lowest reserves, which isn't ideal. Graff also notes that "Strong missed the start of training camp due to injury, and so far, it doesn't seem like he's caught up." He's competing with Ty Montgomery, J.J. Taylor, and Kevin Harris in the backfield. Strong likely won't be released, but his path to fantasy relevance looks bleak in 2022.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders' production in 2022 could be restricted by his ongoing struggles in the passing game as "he continues to fight the ball at times," according to Bo Wulf of The Athletic. This is not a major surprise considering he has been held to 54 catches and 355 receiving yards over his last two seasons combined. For comparison, he caught 50 passes for 509 yards in his rookie season alone. Between Sanders' struggles and Kenneth Gainwell's promising profile as a pass-catcher, the former will likely be tasked with duties on the ground while the latter gets involved on passing downs. As a result, Sanders' fantasy production could suffer. He should be viewed as a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3 heading into 2022, especially as the Eagles have even more mouths to feed.
New England Patriots wide receiver Tre Nixon is trending up after the team's loss to the New York Giants on Thursday, according to Chad Graff of The Athletic. After impressing in training camp, Nixon totaled four catches for 81 yards in the preseason opener. When asked about Nixon after the game, head coach Bill Belichick said, "Hard-working kid, tough kid, looking for an opportunity. Nobody works harder than he does. He's one of the hardest working players on the team." That's certainly a glowing report from a coach who values work ethic so highly. The Patriots' receiver room is deep, but so far, Nixon looks like he might sneak onto the roster if the team decides to carry six receivers. As Graff notes, Nixon can help his case by standing out on special teams over the final two preseason games.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Tylan Wallace sprained his knee during an end-around play against the Titans on Thursday evening, according to head coach John Harbaugh. "He believes Wallace's injury is minor, but he isn't sure how much time the receiver will miss," writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Wallace caught just two passes for 23 yards as a rookie last season and hauled in one of two targets during this week's preseason contest. He had been expected to compete for the No. 4 role in a wide receiver room headlined by Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay, but it's possible that this injury sets him back.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told the media that wide receiver James Proche is dealing with a soft tissue injury. The ailment held him out of Thursday's preseason opener and could force him to miss up to two weeks of action. It's a frustrating setback for the wide receiver considering how impressive he has looked during training camp. Even though he'll miss time, Proche remains clear favorite for the No. 3 role behind Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay. He caught 16 passes for 202 yards last season and should see a significant increase in opportunities in 2022.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Ameer Abdullah is expected command a heavy receiving workload in the offense this coming season. SI.com's Albert Breer reports that Abdullah will occupy a "James White role" in new head coach Josh McDaniels' offense. The Raiders signed the 29-year-old early in the offseason. Not only has he impressed during training camp, but he racked up a solid 23 receiving yards, seven rushing yards, and one touchdown in Vegas' preseason opener last week. He also provides value on special teams, meaning he could have a leg up on someone like Kenyan Drake when it comes time for the Raiders to make final cuts. He's worth stashing in deeper PPR leagues ahead of this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens is making a strong impression at his first training camp as a pro. The 21-year-old is making all sorts of eye-popping plays on the practice field and looks to be earning himself a significant role in the offense. Team reporter Mark Kaboly mentioned that Pickens is "one of the best wide receivers I've seen as a rookie." That is some very high praise for the former Georgia collegiate star, as the Steelers have got some impressive rookie seasons out of the likes of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and former receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Pickens will have to compete with Johnson, Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth for targets, but his undeniable talent could still make him worth a late-round flier for fantasy managers.
Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz (calf) is dealing with a calf injury, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He has been held out of practice, but it isn't something to be overly concerned about. Kingsbury mentioned that Ertz is "coming along" from the issue, so the big tight end's Week 1 availability doesn't seem to be in question as of now. The 31-year-old will be counted on as one of Kyler Murray's top targets in the six-game absence of DeAndre Hopkins, so he can be locked in as a mid-range TE1 option for fantasy managers out of the gate. Once Hopkins is back, Ertz will have to fight off both Hopkins and Marquise Brown for targets, but should still be able to produce low-end TE1 numbers nonetheless.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) has been dealing with a hamstring injury that has kept him out of training camp. However, the issue is not serious and shouldn't keep him on the shelf for an extended period of time, as he is expected to rejoin his teammates at practice next week. The 29-year-old played in just 11 games last year, so it is wise for the Raiders to take a cautious approach with their big red zone target prior to the start of the season. Waller will have more competition for targets from Derek Carr with Davante Adams now in the mix, but he still figures to produce high-end TE1 numbers for fantasy managers. He can continue to be valued as a top-5 tight end
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.