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.
Cleveland Browns starting center Nick Harris (knee) will likely need season-ending surgery on his right knee for an injury that he suffered in Friday's preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. Harris was replaced in Friday's game by Ethan Pocic, who signed a one-year, $1.187 million deal in March. Brock Hoffman, an undrafted rookie from Virginia Tech, is the only other center on the team's training camp roster. It remains to be seen if the Browns will look to re-sign JC Tretter, their starter the last five seasons, after they released him in a cost-cutting move in March. Pocic was a second-round pick in 2017 by the Seattle Seahawks, and he started 40 of his 57 games played in Seattle. It's bad news for the Browns offense, especially with quarterback Deshaun Watson's potential season-long suspension looming.
The Cleveland Browns activated cornerback Denzel Ward (foot) off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday, clearing him to begin practicing with the team at training camp. Ward wasn't able to practice with the team to begin camp this summer, but the expectation is that he'll be ready to go for the start of the regular season in Week 1. The two-time Pro Bowler finished his fourth NFL season in 2021 with 43 tackles (34 solo), three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 10 passes defensed and half a sack in 15 starts. While Ward isn't really on the radar in IDP fantasy leagues, he's a very important piece of Cleveland's secondary.
The Indianapolis Colts activated wide receiver Mike Strachan (knee) from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday. Strachan began training camp on the PUP list after having offseason knee surgery, but the Colts will now start working him into practices. In his rookie season, the seventh-round pick caught only two of his three targets for 26 yards in six games for Indy, but he'll be looking for a bigger role as a depth option for the Colts, behind the likes of Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell and rookie Alec Pierce. Strachan will be competing with Dezmon Patmon and Ashton Dulin for the fourth receiver spot in Indy to begin the 2022 season.
The Denver Broncos activated pass-rusher Randy Gregory (shoulder) off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday, according to a source. Gregory had offseason shoulder surgery and was one of the team's big free-agent signings of the offseason. The expectation is that he'll be ready for Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. The 29-year-old is likely to be eased into training camp practices and preseason games, but barring a setback with his shoulder, he should be ready for the start of the regular season. Gregory is very injury-prone and hasn't played a full season since being taken in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Dallas Cowboys, but he also had 15.5 sacks over the last three years and could be on the IDP radar if he can stay healthy all year.
The Denver Broncos signed veteran free-agent linebacker Joe Schobert to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to a source. Schobert starred for the Cleveland Browns and was most recently with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, when he recorded 112 tackles (70 solo), one interception, six passes defensed and one forced fumble in 16 games. He will help fill the void created by an injury to Jonas Griffith (elbow), who will miss at least a month of action. The 28-year-old Schobert is expected to compete for a backup spot with Justin Strnad in Denver. Schobert brings plenty of experience to an already strong Broncos defense, and he's recorded 100-plus tackles in five of his six NFL seasons.
Dynasty | Falcons rookie running back Tyler Allgeier was listed as a riser in a recent camp report Dynasty Analysis: The rookie rushed for 25 yards on three carries in his first preseason action and also had a nice blitz pickup showing that he is picking up more than just yardage on the field. As noted in the attached link, the team is going to have a make a tough cut at some point at running back but Allgeier is certain to remain. He's still expected to play behind hybrid player Cordarrelle Patterson. He's listed as DLF's RB56 and is an intriguing second-round dynasty rookie draft selection.
Dynasty | Falcons running back Damien Williams was listed as a "faller" in a recent training camp report Dynasty Analysis: Williams only managed 10 yards on three carries in the team's first preseason game and it's likely too early to make any calls on his ability to stick on the roster. The team is going to have to make a tough cut or two at the position and it means Williams or Qadree Ollison could be the first to go. Given Ollison's better performance, Williams would seem to be more on the bubble. He's very sparsely ranked as DLF's RB79.
Dynasty | Bills rookie tight end Jalen Wydermyer has been released Dynasty Analysis: It's a bit of a surprise as Wydermyer had gained a bit of a following prior to the 2022 NFL Draft and he's certain to catch on elsewhere. For now, there's no need to roster the rookie until after we see him resurface and have impact with a new team. He's unranked on DLF's tight end rankings.
Dynasty | Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu was listed as a "riser" in a recent camp report Dynasty Analysis: Nwangwu looked decisive and agile in his first preseason action as he rushed for 41 yards on seven carries while converting both of his targets for 18 yards. Fellow backfield mate Ty Chandler rushed for more yardage and also looked strong but it was Nwangwu who looked more decisive and agile. With Dalvin Cook aging and Alexander Mattison a free agent in 2023, there's change on the horizon. Nwangwu, DLF's RB76, is a well valued dynasty stash for 2023 and beyond.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph made both of his field goal and extra point attempts in the team's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders, connecting on 20-yard and 23-yard attempts in this one. The 28-year-old made 33-of-38 field goal attempts and 70-of-78 extra point attempts during the 2021 season, so he should be a reliable option for fantasy managers in 2022. After finishing as the sixth-best kicker in fantasy a season ago, Joseph seems like a safe weekly starting option as the Vikings offense should have no trouble putting him in a position to score points this season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu carried the ball seven times for 41 yards and caught two passes for an additional 18 yards in Sunday's preseason loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The second-year back out of Iowa State will look to earn a role in the Minnesota offense this season, as he carried the ball just 13 times for 61 yards in his rookie year. Nwangwu was mostly used in the return game, showcasing his game-breaking speed on multiple occasions. As of now, he seems like a safe bet to be the RB3 behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so his fantasy value could increase significantly if anyone ahead of him on the depth chart misses time this season.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Albert Wilson caught two passes for 22 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders. Wilson saw just two targets in this one as he clearly made the most of his opportunity. The former Miami Dolphin will look to carve out a role in the offense as the preseason continues, but it is hard to envision him earning a role that will make him fantasy relevant. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn are locked in as the top-three wide receivers, so Wilson will need to fend off Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Bisi Johnson for WR4 duties in the high-powered Minnesota offense. Wilson can be left off the fantasy radar for now.
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler carried the ball five times for 50 yards in Sunday's preseason loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The fifth-round pick out of North Carolina will need to continue to impress if he wants a role in the Minnesota offense, as Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Kene Nwangwu currently sit atop the depth chart. Head coach Kevin O'Connell praised the rookie after his strong performance, saying "he's pretty decisive in the run game, putting his foot down, getting north and south." Still, it is hard to envision Chandler having any fantasy value given that he is likely the fourth option in the backfield. The 24-year-old would need a lot to go his way to be considered for fantasy rosters this season.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond completed 9-of-14 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the team's preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. The Texas A&M collegiate product will look to gain the edge over Sean Mannion for QB2 duties throughout the rest of the preseason, as there have been reports that the 23-year-old has struggled in training camp. However, he outperformed his competition in this one, as Mannion completed 8-of-12 passes for just 79 yards. Mond won't have any fantasy value for the time being, but if he wins the backup job and Kirk Cousins misses time this season, he could be an interesting option with the Vikings' loaded supporting cast.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor will miss the entire preseason, according to head coach Frank Reich. The star running back was rested during the preseason opener. Now, the organization has decided to have Taylor sit out the rest of the preseason. The Colts aren't expected to use any of their starters next week because of a joint practice with the Detroit Lions. The lack of reps for Taylor shouldn't be much of a concern for fantasy managers heading into the regular season.
Detroit Lions tight end Garrett Griffin has been released by the organization. The 28-year-old was reunited with head coach Dan Campbell earlier this offseason. They overlapped with each other during their time in New Orleans. Regardless, it doesn't sound like Griffin made the first round of cuts. That is not a good sign for the veteran blocking tight end. He played in a career-high 13 games last season with the Saints. Although, he couldn't make the Lions roster who lacks serious depth at tight end. Griffin is unlikely to be fantasy relevant on any roster. Fantasy managers should expect T.J. Hockenson to be the focal point at tight end in Detroit.
Cleveland Browns defensive back Greg Newsome II (hamstring) won't be sidelined for long, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. The 22-year-old hasn't practiced since Tuesday and sat out the preseason opener. Despite that, the Browns don't expect Newsome to miss Week 1 of the regular season. The former first round pick battled multiple injuries last season. Although, he still had success with 37 tackles and nine passes defended through 13 games. Fantasy managers who have the Browns defense rostered shouldn't be worried about Newsome missing significant time from this injury.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is unlikely to face a suspension, according to Adam Schefter. It seems increasingly more likely that Kamara won't be suspended before the regular season begins. That being said, it could happen down the road or even during the 2023 campaign. The 27-year-old is facing felony battery charges resulting in substantial bodily harm. The hearing is supposed to happen on September 29th, but it has also been postponed three times already. Kamara should be a fine RB2 after getting a career-high in touches last season. Although, the threat of a suspension is always looming, which does somewhat hurt his value.
New Orleans rookie wide receiverChris Olave turned his lone target into four yards in Saturday's 17-13 preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Only logging 15 snaps (eight routes run) during his time on the field, he will look to make a more significant impact in the next preseason matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The lack of targets should not be a concern for fantasy managers; look for that to increase when starting quarterback Jameis Winston(foot) returns to action. While we still wait to see whatMichael Thomaslooks like post-injury and whereJarvis Landryfits into the lineup, Olave still looks to be a great value as a later-round wide receiver with a high upside in what should be a pass-happy offense.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Ameer Abdullah was among the players rested during a 26-20 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Aug. 14.
Fantasy Spin: Josh Jacobs and Abdullah rested in the preseason contest, which seems to support the rumors that Abdullah has emerged as the third-down back for Las Vegas. Kenyan Drake and Zamir Wchite are lurking, but Abdullah is worth grabbing in the later rounds of PPR formats.