Reading the Defense: Wake shakes up Week 1

Most fantasy owners spent Week 1 marvelling over huge numbers from Matt Ryan, Calvin Johnson and Julius Thomas -- for good reason. But you, dear IDP enthusiast, know that there is more to both real (and fantasy) football than the guys who throw, run and catch. Along those lines, Week 1 offered some pretty outstanding defensive performances.

J.J. Watt's day understandably received the most attention -- it should be the first of many for the league's highest-paid defensive player -- but it was probably Cameron Wake who was the most impressive defensive lineman in the first week of the season.

Wake terrorized the Patriots' offensive line, sacking Tom Brady twice and forcing a pair of fumbles. Entering his sixth season, Wake has shown potential but has lacked in consistency. The odd part is that in even-numbered seasons, the Dolphins' lineman has averaged 14.5 sacks compared to just 7.5 in odd-numbered years. If that holds, Wake is in line for big things this season. He certainly showed it in Week 1.

The usual suspects

Over the past few seasons, few fantasy linebackers have been as consistent at Luke Kuechly and Paul Posluszny -- especially for a pair of players who toil in relative anonymity. They might not draw the headlines of players like Patrick Willis or Clay Matthews, but Kuechly and Posluszny have delighted IDP owners the world over with their wide-ranging abilitites.

But just in case you forgot (or never knew in the first place), both players resumed their roles as IDP studs. Posluszny loaded up with 11 solo tackles and an assist while Kuechly did a little bit of everything, mixing in a sack and a forced fumble with his nine total tackles. Ho-hum. Just another day on the job.

By the way ... three more names that you can expect to see near the top of the list had quality Week 1 outings as well. Karlos Dansby, Lavonte David and Vontaze Burfict all had nine points or better in the first week. Few things are more rewarding for fantasy owners than having their stars show out in Week 1.

Four downs

» The Houston Texans' defense had a nice revival in Week 1, shutting down Washington's offense. But the team will now have to endure life without Jadeveon Clowney for a little while. The 2014 No. 1 overall pick underwent arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus and is expected to miss the next four to six weeks. It's a big blow to a unit looking for big things after a dreadful 2013 ... and there's only so much that J.J. Watt can do on his own. The good news for Houston is that the matchups seem to favor them going forward. Next week, the Texans visit the Raiders followed by matchups against the Giants and Bills. If they can survive those matchups, it's possible Houston can weather the storm without its newest defensive stud.

» It was bad enough for the Colts that Robert Mathis was suspended for four games. But now the news has gotten worse. Indianapolis will have to go the entire season without the 33-year-old sack specialist after he tore his Achilles tendon while working out on his own. It's a huge blow to a defense that was expected to be mediocre at best this season. It's also a potentially big loss for IDP owners looking to scoop up a talented linebacker one month into the season.

» You can add Dannell Ellerbe to the list of players lost for the season. The Dolphins' linebacker left Sunday's win over the Patriots with a hip injury -- one of several injuries to key defenders. Last season, Ellerbe finished just outside the top 25 at his position with the expectation that bigger things were in store for 2014. Those ambitions are now on hold.

» The Browns might have been too ambitious about putting rookie Justin Gilbert into the starting lineup for Week 1. The young corner struggled mightily in the loss to the Steelers and it has Cleveland's coaches rethinking Gilbert's workload going forward. The marquee corners on the roster remain Joe Haden and Buster Skrine. It's probably wise to revise any of those potential fantasy sleeper expectations for Gilbert for the time being.

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

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