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In the future, cars will run on water, smartphones will be small enough to implant in our ears ... and every fantasy football league will include individual defensive players.
Offense gets most of the attention in fantasy football. It's understandable. The NFL is a league slanted toward offenses and fantasy reflects that. But there are guys who play on the other side of the ball and since they impact real football, they should impact fantasy football as well.
Sure, it's nice to recognize the brick wall-like qualities of the 49ers or Ravens, but what about the individual pieces that make those defenses work? For every Aaron Rodgers there's a Sean Lee who can dominate a game defensively. That's something Mattia Nanfria reminded us during the first quarter of Wednesday's season opener.
First off, I'm hoping that Lee didn't end the game as the high scorer (unless he was her only starter from that game). More importantly, it's the perfect way for us to relaunch "Reading the Defense" for 2012.
Wednesday's game was like the continuation of a stellar 2011 for Lee. The Cowboys linebacker logged 10 solo tackles, assisted on two more and forced a fumble. He might not draw the same type of attention as guys like Patrick Willis or Clay Matthews, but if you are playing in an IDP league, you'd better learn his name. Last season -- Lee's first as a starter -- he logged 105 total tackles (71 solo), defended seven pass and snagged four interceptions. Playing alongside DeMarcus Ware will only help Lee with offenses having to focus so much attention on the Cowboys' sack master.
Ware was his normal self Wednesday night, logging five tackles and two sacks, including sack No. 100 of his career. He looks to be on the road to his seventh straight season with double-digit sacks. The only time he didn't reach that plateau was during his rookie season in 2005 ... when he finished with eight. Whether he matches his 20-sack season of 2008 remains to be seen, but he remains a quality LB option.
First down: It appears that the Cleveland Browns will have Joe Haden for the season opener. The cornerback is facing a [four-game suspension](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000057944/article/holmgren-joe-haden-waiting-on-su
spension-appeal), but since he practiced Wednesday, it seems unlikely that the league will sit him down just yet. Last season, Haden was a top 40 defensive back, posting 84 fantasy points. With the Eagles and their speedy wideouts coming to town on Sunday, Haden and fellow corner Sheldon Brown should see plenty of work.
Second down: It's not a surprise, but the Pittsburgh Steelers have announced that safety Ryan Clark[will not play](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000057966/article/ryan-clark-among-players-who-wil
l-miss-week-1) Sunday at Denver. Clark missed last January's playoff loss to the Broncos because of a sickle cell trait that makes playing in altitude a dangerous proposition. The status of linebacker James Harrison is a little more unclear. Harrison, who had knee surgery last month, [missed Thursday's practice](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000059058/article/james-harrison-sits-out-pittsbur
gh-steelers-practice), although he tweeted that he'd be back to work on Friday with a better idea of whether he'd suit up Sunday night.
Third down: Brian Urlacher has told anyone who would listen that he will be ready to go for the Chicago Bears' season opener against the Colts. The team seems to agree, telling NFL.com's Ian Rapoport that they expect the star linebacker [to be available](http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000058736/article/chicago-bears-believe-brian-urla
cher-will-play-sunday) for Week 1. Urlacher's sack numbers have been inconsistent over the past few seasons, but as long as he's healthy, he's a near lock for 100+ tackles and a handful of interceptions. And he gets to start the season against a rookie quarterback. It might be Andrew Luck, but he's still a rookie making his first live NFL start.
Fourth down: The Detroit Lions could be without two of their better secondary players this week. Both cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas[missed practice](http://www.freep.com/article/20120906/SPORTS01/120906031/1049/sports01?utm_source=feedb
s%29) Thursday and don't seem poised to play this weekend. Considering Detroit's opponent is St. Louis and its anemic passing offense, neither Houston nor Delmas seemed like big scoring IDP choices this week.