Reading the Defense: Osi Umenyiora on the rebound

Meet the new IDP studs. Same as the old IDP studs.

One of the notable trends in IDP stats this year involves a couple of veteran players returning to form for owners in a big way. But considering their previous production, it's certainly possible that you haven't noticed.

For everything that's going wrong for the Atlanta Falcons, one thing that has gone right is Osi Umenyiora. The veteran defensive lineman seems rejuvenated by his change of address. Since leaving the Big Apple for the Dirty South, Umenyiora looks more like the guy who became a star QB harasser for the Giants.

Through his first five games, he's posted four sacks to go along with 10 tackles and is on pace to post his best totals since 2010, when he made All-NFL second team.

He's not the only bounceback defensive player in the league this season. Terrell Suggs is looking a lot like his old self after an injury-shortened 2012 campaign. A little more than a month into the season, he's logged seven sacks -- putting him halfway to the career-high 14 quarterback takedowns he scored in 2011.

Suggs isn't a major surprise. When healthy, he's one of the NFL's most feared pass rushers. Most people expected that the addition of Elvis Dumervil would be a boost, but Dumervil's been fairly quiet with just three sacks. Still, his presence means offensive lines can't focus solely on slowing T-Sizzle.

For Umenyiora, it's a different story. The Falcons are in the bottom fourth of the league in sacks with 11 and as the nation found out last Monday night, their defensive line is getting almost no push upfield. If that trend continues, it will get harder for Umenyiora to get to the quarterback. But in the short term, he's worth a look -- especially with games upcoming against a trio of teams with shaky passing games like Tampa Bay, Arizona and Carolina.

Welcome back, Mr. Washington

It was one heck of a season debut for Daryl Washington last Sunday. In his return from a four-game suspension, the Arizona Cardinals linebacker did it all, logging eight tackles with two sacks, an interception and a pass deflection. That's a handy 15.50 fantasy points in one week -- or nearly twice what Tom Brady posted in Week 5.

Washington was the second-highest scoring defensive player in fantasy football last season, and games like Sunday remind you why. He's an aggressive, do-everything player who patrols the middle of an aggressive, ball-hawking defense.

Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett are wreaking havoc up front while Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson are causing confusion in the secondary. That should allow Washington to freelance in the middle of the field alongside Karlos Dansby (who currently leads all IDP scorers). It's coming together at the perfect time for a team that is struggling offensively -- as well as for fantasy owners seeking defensive help.

Four downs

» For Clay Matthews, it's been a case of "if it's not one thing, it's another." The Packers linebacker has been battling to play through a hamstring injury, but now is expected to miss the next month with a broken thumb. That robs Green Bay of its leading sack man. However with just three sacks, it might be fair to wonder if the hamstring injury has slowed his production. Either way, you'll have to find another option for the next few weeks.

» The Chiefs have found new ways to get value out of Brandon Flowers. Last week, Kansas City used the talented corner as a nickel back to defend the slot. In his normal outside spot, the team went with rookie Marcus Cooper. Both players had solid games in the win over Tennessee. But it's a move worth noting for IDP owners. If Flowers continues to defer to Cooper on defending outside receivers, the younger DB could have greater value in the short term as teams try to pick on him.

» The San Francisco 49ers have a new third cornerback. Head coach Jim Harbaugh says the team will stick with Tramaine Brock over Nnamdi Asomugha, even once the latter gets healthy. For the past couple of years, Asomugha was a threat in name only and now that reputation has had multiple holes punched in it. In the meantime, Brock scored a pair of interceptions against the Houston Texans last week -- including one returned for a TD. He should continue to be a ballhawk against Carson Palmer, who's had a recent penchant for throwing to the wrong-colored jersey.

» Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner is suffering from a high-ankle sprain, but it's believed that he'll be able to play this week against the Tennessee Titans. Wagner hasn't quite been the tackling machine he was a season ago, some of which can be owed to a front line that has stifled opposing offenses.

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

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