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.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Charlie Woerner (core muscle) was removed from the PUP list on Sunday. The 2020 sixth-round selection out of Georgia had surgery during the offseason. However, he's buried deep on the depth chart, with a big chunk of his workload reserved for the special teams unit. Still, if George Kittle or Tyler Kroft miss time this season, there's a chance Woerner could receive more snaps. But even then, his fantasy expectations will remain low.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (knee) came off the Physically Unable to Perform list, per head coach Matt LaFleur. The rookie had an offseason procedure and hasn't been active throughout training camp thus far. He will be eased back into action, performing individual drills. However, his status for Week 1 remains up in the air. Nevertheless, while Watson figures to see plenty of attention from Aaron Rodgers this season, he will probably need some time to work out any rust caused by his lengthy absence. As a result, he may not be a starting fantasy option early in the season, although he could pick things up as the year progresses.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (knee) will be removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list, per head coach Matt LaFleur. The rookie had an offseason procedure and hasn't been active throughout training camp thus far. He will be eased back into action, performing individual drills. However, his status for Week 1 remains up in the air. Nevertheless, while Watson figures to see plenty of attention from Aaron Rodgers this season, he will probably need some time to work out any rust caused by his lengthy absence. As a result, he may not be a starting fantasy option early in the season, although he could pick things up as the year progresses.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) came off the PUP list on Sunday to start drilling individually, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. The 28-year-old tore his ACL in Week 8 last season during a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals and wasn't available for the remainder of the year. While it's still not certain if he'll be in uniform for Week 1, he's at least moving in the right direction. Nevertheless, his workload may be limited even if he's good for the season opener. However, Tonyan is a familiar face for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so he could progressively get more targets and snaps throughout the 2022-23 campaign.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Trill Williams (knee) suffered a torn left ACL during Saturday's preseason matchup against the Buccaneers. He will miss the 2022-23 season. The 22-year-old was forecasted to backup Xavier Howard and Byron Jones (leg). However, Williams had a chance to see more action, at least for a game or two, if Jones wasn't recovered enough from leg surgery to be ready for Week 1. Still, even if the Syracuse alum had remained healthy, he wasn't expected to see any interest from most IDP managers.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) will come off the PUP list on Monday and start drilling individually, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. The 28-year-old tore his ACL in Week 8 last season during a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals and wasn't available for the remainder of the year. While it's still not certain if he'll be in uniform for Week 1, he's at least moving in the right direction. Nevertheless, his workload may be limited even if he's good for the season opener. However, Tonyan is a familiar face for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so he could progressively get more targets and snaps throughout the 2022-23 campaign.
Dynasty | Bills rookie receiver Khalil Shakir totaled 92 yards on 5-of-5 receiving Dynasty Analysis: Shakir continues to garner a following from the dynasty community and his production in his first professional game will only accelerate his climb. While not expected to be a starter in week one, Shakir continues to receive high praise in camp and could mix in with the starters in four-wide sets. Found as DLF's rookie WR16, he'll remain a name to watch as training camp rolls on.
Dynasty | Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce rushed for 49 yards on five carries Dynasty Analysis: Pierce looked the part of no less than an early-down starter on his five totes, one of them being a 20-yard scamper. The running back position is somewhat of a wide open proposition for the Texans in 2022 with Marlon Mack and veteran Rex Burkhead expected to lead the way. Given Pierces profile and youth, however, it will be no surprise to see the rookie garner starter's touches by mid-season. Pierce is listed as DLF's rookie RB5 and our RB39 overall.
Dynasty | Chargers rookie running back Isaiah Spiller rushed for 34 yards on 10 carries Dynasty Analysis: He also caught his lone target for 10 yards. Spiller is locked in a battle for the backup role behind Austin Ekeler but still looks to be behind Joshua Kelley at this juncture. As DLF's rookie RB7, there's little question the 21-year-old has starting upside but his drafted situation in L.A. will require patience from his dynasty coaches. It's a long training camp and general belief is that it will be Spiller backing up Ekeler by the end of the season, but without injury above him on the depth chart, there's little runway for material production in 2022.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith isn't overly concerned about Drake London (knee) missing a substantial amount of time. The rookie didn't practice on Sunday after injuring his knee during Friday's preseason matchup against the Detroit Lions. Fortunately, the injury isn't considered serious. While Smith hasn't specified how long London is expected to be out, there's a chance he could be ready for Week 1. Still, until there is a definitive update, fantasy managers can consider playing it safe by looking for another fantasy wideout in drafts heading into the start of the regular season.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Jalen Guyton hauled in both his targets for six yards during Saturday's 29-22 preseason loss to Los Angeles Rams. Guyton is battling with teammate Joshua Palmer to earn a starting role in this electrifying offense. Guyton possesses elite speed but will need to do more with his talent to earn consideration from the coaching staff. His skill set pairs well with the big arm of Justin Herbert, which could produce some big plays and spike weeks for fantasy managers if he can become more involved.
Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin had one reception for 17 yards in the preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers. McLaurin's lone reception was the longest completion for Carson Wentz on a day where the signal-caller was pretty efficient. The 26-year-old is entering his fourth season with what most would say is the best quarterback of his career so far. If the two can build a strong connection, new statistical heights may be in the cards for the talented wideout. While McLaurin is currently a high-end WR2, he certainly has WR1 upside.
Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell passed for 145 yards while completing nine of his 16 attempts during the preseason loss to Carolina. He also added three carries for 19 yards and two touchdowns. Howell saw no action for the entire first half but took over for most of the second. The fifth-round rookie did his best to make the game close as he led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, resulting in two rushing touchdowns for himself. As a player projected to be a first-round pick at one point, Howell has a shot at taking over the backup quarterback job from Taylor Heinicke before the start of the season. If his impressive play continues, his fantasy stock could be on the rise as an insurance policy for Carson Wentz in deep Superflex leagues.
Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson carried the ball six times for 26 yards and one touchdown during Saturday's preseason loss to Carolina. He also added two receptions for 15 yards. The 23-year-old rookie started the day behind Antonio Gibson but quickly saw work due to Gibson's struggles with ball security. Robinson took full advantage of his opportunity by gaining 10 yards on his first carry and then nine yards on his first reception. The former Alabama running back is still expected to be listed behind Gibson on the depth chart, but there may be some consideration for a more prominent role if he continues to perform well throughout the preseason.
Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson carried the ball four times for two yards along with one reception for two yards in Saturday's loss to the Carolina Panthers. The 24-year-old had a rough start as his second carry resulted in a fumble, leading to him being quickly replaced by Brian Robinson. Gibson's ball security is still an issue, and the coaching staff seems to feel comfortable with what they have in Robinson. There's still time for the third-year back to regain trust, but he may be on his way to losing touches in this backfield. Be cautious when considering him during drafts.
Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel saw two targets in Washington's loss to the Carolina Panthers. The former Buckeye was the recipient of Carson Wentz's first pass of the game, racking up six yards before converting on third down off an eight-yard reception. His 14 total yards weren't much, but it was encouraging to see the 26-year-old back on the field after an injury-riddled 2021. With Samuel also getting work with the first team, he could be a nice speculative pick late in drafts heading into the season.
Miami Dolphins QB Teddy Bridgewater (back) did not play in preseason Week 1 because of back tightness, according to head coach Mike McDaniel on Sunday, Aug. 14. The injury isn't thought to be serious, though.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer failed to record a catch despite receiving four targets during Saturday's 29-22 preseason loss to Los Angeles Rams. The sophomore receiver had a decent stretch at the end of last year, producing 15 receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns in their final five games. Palmer has also received plenty of praise during training camp and currently projects to be the third option behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, which should be a meaningful role for fantasy managers. That said, Palmer will need to do more in his next game to ensure Jalen Guyton doesn't steal work and give the Chargers' coaching staff a reason to take him off the field.
Los Angeles Chargers backup quarterback Chase Daniel completed 11 of his 17 pass attempts for 117 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions during Saturday's 29-22 preseason loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Daniel was in command of an offense that was missing most of its starters. His touchdown throws included an accurate 41-yard strike to wide receiver Joe Reed and a short three-yard dump-off that receiver Michael Bandy took the remaining thirteen yards to the house. While he doesn't figure to see any regular season action, barring injury, it's beneficial to know that he could sustain the fantasy value of the Chargers' superstars, at least temporarily, should anything happen to Justin Herbert.
Los Angeles Chargers rookie running back Isaiah Spiller rushed the ball 10 times for 34 yards while adding one reception for 10 yards during Saturday's 29-22 preseason loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Spiller dropped to 123rd overall in the draft, largely because of his poor performance at the combine, but he could flourish in this high-octane offense if he can cede work from Austin Ekeler. However, before this becomes a possibility, he'll need to fend off Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III. It was promising to see Spiller receive a target, but his inefficiency on the ground will need to improve to make an impact for fantasy managers this year.