Reading the Defense: Get hyped over Clowney

Two weeks into the preseason and everything is starting to become clearer for offensive fantasy players. The same is true for the defensive guys as well. Once again, we have a quick look at some of the players who are up and who are down following the second full week of preseason games.

Stock up

Jadeveon Clowney, LB, Houston Texans: Two games, two strong performances for the No. 1 overall pick. As good as he looked in Houston's preseason Week 1 loss to the Cardinals, he might have been even better last week against the Falcons. Don't believe? Just take a look at the video above for proof. It's very early in Clowney's NFL career, but already his size and speed are going to be a problem for opposing offensive lines.

Elvis Dumervil, LB, Baltimore Ravens: After a lackluster first week, Dumervil picked things up against the Cowboys in Week 2. The veteran pass rusher didn't record a sack, but he was consistently in Tony Romo's face. Dumervil's first season with the Ravens wasn't bad -- resulting in 9.5 sacks -- but here's to hoping a second season in Dean Pees' defense can help the pass rusher return to his double-digit sack plateau.

Calvin Pryor, DB, New York Jets: Gang Green's first-round pick made his NFL debut over the weekend. It was worth the wait. Pryor made plays all over the field, but was especially impressive as an extra pass rusher, hurrying the quarterback on multiple occasions. With Rex Ryan's defense expected to once again be very aggressive, Pryor has sleeper potential as a rookie defensive back option.

Stock down

Dee Ford, LB, Kansas City Chiefs: While the Jets rookie made a positive impression, the same can't be said for the Chiefs first-year player. After a decent opening performance against the Bengals in preseason Week 1, Ford struggled in every aspect against the much less explosive Panthers offense. Generally speaking, inconsistency is a way of life with rookies, which is reason enough to avoid the No. 23 overall pick for the time being.

Walter Thurmond, DB, New York Giants: Thurmond spent a good portion of his night unsuccessfully chasing Hakeem Nicks around. It was the worst of three unremarkable performances by the former Seahawk in a defense that could be taxed this year if Eli Manning and the offense can't move the football. It might be wise to stay away from the Giants in general.

Louis Delmas, DB, Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins brought in Delmas to improve a secondary that was among the better units in the league, but so far the veteran is having a tough time getting going. You had to scroll down the ranks awhile to find Delmas' name in IDP scoring totals, but that was with Detroit. A move to Miami in theory helps his value, but he'll need to perform better before we can believe it.

Four downs

» The Cardinals got some bad news Monday when Darnell Dockett was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The veteran defensive tackle wasn't necessarily an IDP commodity on his own -- he finished tied for 53rd at his position last season -- his value was his ability to tie up offensive lineman and allow the players on the edges to get after the quarterback. Combine this with the losses of Karlos Dansby (Browns) and Daryl Washington (suspension) and the Redbirds are missing a lot of key pieces. To help ease the loss, Arizona is reportedly talking with free agent Brett Keisel.

» There was some good news in the desert: Tyrann Mathieu is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list Tuesday. The young defensive back is well ahead of the estimated timeline for his return, but Mathieu recently said that he hoped to be back on the practice field within a few weeks. Mathieu was having a quality rookie season before it was cut short with a torn ACL and LCL. He's currently atop the depth chart at free safety and when healthy can be a big playmaker in one of the league's best secondaries.

» The Browns are in the conversation of league's best secondaries, though they were hit with a big loss after Buster Skrine underwent thumb surgery. Skrine struggled last season, finishing as one of the worst corners in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. This season, he finds himself in a battle with rookie Justin Gilbert for the starting spot opposite Joe Haden. Skrine's absence will give Gilbert an advantage, at least temporarily. With Haden locking down receivers across the way, his counterpart could have plenty of chances to make plays.

» Ryan Shazier announced his presence to the world in the Steelers preseason game. That alone is enough to continue to watch the rookie as an IDP sleeper. But it could also help revive the productivity of Troy Polamalu. In recent seasons, Polamalu's numbers have slumped as he has been asked to help pick up the slack at linebacker -- especially in pass coverage. If what we saw from Shazier was a glimpse of what is to come, Pittsburgh could have an IDP renaissance.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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