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Reading the Defense: Champ Bailey ruled out

Yet another year has passed and the idea of using individual defensive players as a fantasy option hasn't quite taken off like wildfire. It's sort of like all those soccer fans in the 1990s who professed endlessly that eventually we'd be more enamored with David Beckham than David Carr.

OK, bad example. But you understand. However, fear not brave IDP owner. We're with you here at Reading the Defense. In fact, we consider you to be fantasy football hipsters (not to be confused with the always amusing Fantasy Hipster). You're avant garde, forward-thinking fantasy football connoisseurs. And you have excellent taste in shoes.

Maybe you're new to IDP leagues, in which case ... welcome! We like your shoes, too. But in the event that you're fairly new to this style of fantasy goodness, let's get you hip to a few things that should help you along.

1. Stars don't always make good IDP options. On the offensive side of the ball, you're drafting Adrian Peterson for a reason. He's going to produce every week. However, it's not always the same for defensive players. When a guy makes too many plays on defense, offenses start to run away from his side of the field. That's especially true for defensive backs. Even at his best, Darrelle Revis wasn't a good fantasy option. You'll have to do a little research to find good IDP options. Or you could peruse this.

2. Avoid defensive linemen, if you can. Not all IDP leagues force you to start a defensive lineman. If that's the case, you're better off forgoing the position. Sure, J.J. Watt was a beast last season, but there wasn't another D-lineman close to his production. Not to mention that it's hard to imagine him duplicating his 2012 numbers. Usually defensive linemen are expected to occupy their offensive counterparts, allowing the linebackers to make plays around the line of scrimmage. Good for a defense overall. Not for your fantasy team.

3. Don't be afraid to cut bait. You want to wait on a running back to come around. You want to be patient with that slumping quarterback. But an IDP that's not getting it done? As a well-meaning friend (or Pharcyde) may have told you ... there are other fish in the sea. Because so few defensive players will be drafted, it's easy to stream based on matchups. If one guy's not getting it done, move on to the next.

There you have it. Three simple things to remember about tackling an IDP league. Now on to why you're really here ... news!

Dunbar released

Last season, Jo-Lonn Dunbar had a breakthrough season in 2012. The Rams linebacker was a sneaky IDP option, finishing 16th at his position. Now, he's looking for a new job after being released by St. Louis following a suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Another year in Jeff Fisher's defense seems like it would have made Dunbar a sleeper option. Now he suffers the same fate as Arizona's Daryl Washington, who is also banned for the first four games of the season. The difference is that Washington will immediately have a job once he's eligible to play again. Judging from Dunbar's past performance and potential for future success, he'll likely find work elsewhere as well.

Champ Bailey ruled out

As though the Denver Broncos defense didn't get hit hard enough this offseason with the loss of Elvis Dumervil and the Von Miller suspension. Now comes word that cornerback Champ Baileyhas been ruled out of the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

Already minus a serious pass rush, it hurts to have the team's best cornerback on the shelf to begin the season. Nevermind that Bailey was routinely burned by Torrey Smith in the playoffs last season, his presence on one half of the field did a lot to make Chris Harris a more attractive IDP options in 2012.

In an odd twist of fate, Harris could once again be in the spotlight Thursday night. Don't be surprised if Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie moves over to check Smith as Harris lines up as Denver's No. 2 cornerback.

Four downs

» There isn't much about the Buffalo Bills defense to like. But there is Jairus Byrd. Or at least, there wasJairus Byrd. According to's Ian Rapoport, the Bills safety could be put on the shelf with plantar fasciitis. There's a possibility that Byrd could try and play through the pain. Or he could decide that it's in his best interests to wait it out. In case Byrd goes with the latter, the Bills have signed Jim Leonhard as insurance. Either way, it's not worth taking the chance if you were banking on Byrd's sleeper potential in 2013.

» The Saints defense was bad in 2012. Losing Jonathan Vilma for a good portion of 2013 won't help it get any better. The veteran linebacker was placed on the injured reserve - designated to return list after offseason knee surgery. While Vilma hasn't been a great IDP star in recent years, another season playing alongside Curtis Lofton in the middle of the field seemed like it could kickstart his fantasy value. Don't discount Lofton this season, but you can pretty much write Vilma off as a fantasy prospect this year.

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» Oft-injured Lions safety Louis Delmas says he plans to play 16 games this season. It might be a tall order considering he's yet to accomplish the feat in his first four seasons in the NFL. Right now, we're hoping he can get to 12 -- something he hasn't done since 2010 when he played 15 contests. Back in his rookie season of 2009, Delmas was a top 10 IDP defensive back. He hasn't come close to that level since. It would be great to see Delmas once again be productive, but color us skeptical until it actually happens.

» Ed Reed is "highly unlikely" to play for the Houston Texans in Week 1 because of a lingering hip injury. Things had been trending this way for some time this offseason, so it's not a complete surprise. Reed's best fantasy value was as a ballhawk who could allow his mates in the secondary to make plays. It's still worth keeping an eye on fellow safety Danieal Manning as a matchup-based option.

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

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