AFCSOUTH

2012 NFL DEFENSE BREAKDOWN: AFC SOUTH

June 7, 2012 7:41 am Published by
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This is the fourth in a series of articles where we break down every defense in the NFL and provide defense performance  performance vs fantasy position projections for the 2012 season.

We have already recorded every player performance grade from the 2011 season (thanks to profootballfocus.com) and have provided those rankings here: 2012 DEFENSE RANKS. We then took those cumulative scores and compared them against the 2011 personnel for the same teams.

This gives us all the data we need to evaluate each defense vs fantasy QB, RB, WR and TE for the 2012 season and how they will change from their final 2011 rankings. Our goal is to provide the only “True” Strength of Schedule data for the 2012 Fantasy Football season.

After we break down each division, we will use the projected “Fantasy Points Against” rankings to project the Strength of Schedule for each Offensive player in the NFL to determine the easiest and toughest schedules.

This will help you pick the players who will have the least resistance to high production while ignoring the players with a tougher road than others. This is an edge you can only get on fantasyomatic.com. All other sites determine Strength of Schedule based on how defenses finished in 2011.

LEGEND:

Final Rank Against ( vs Position):

2011 Final “Fantasy Points Against” rankings (1-32) or projected 2012 rankings:

1 = Defense is Easiest Fantasy Matchup vs Position

32= Defense is Toughest Fantasy Matchup vs Position

Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against):

Rankings of production of ALL opposing Offensive Players at each position over the entire season:

1 = Defense faced the MOST PRODUCTIVE set of players at this position

32= Defense faced the LEAST PRODUCTIVE set of players at this position
Overall:
Total of all “Ratings” for all starting defensive players
Run:
Total of all “Ratings” for all starting defensive players vs Run
Pass Rush:
Total of all Starting D Line players 2011 QB Sacks, Hits and Pressures +Total Starting D Line Pass Rush Score +Total Starting D Line Pass Coverage Rating +Total Starting Free Safety Pass Rush Score
Pass Cov:
Total Starting DB Pass Cover Score + Starting Free Safety Pass Cover Score + Starting Strong Safety Pass Cover Score

Offenses Faced by Week:

Chart shows 2012 opponents for each defense. The points on the chart break down the QB, RB, WR and TE they face each week and plot the position from 1-32 in order of Offensive Production from 2011.ie: if a defense faces #1 QB in week 1, they face the top producing QB in the NFL that week.

This is all the information on free agency, draft picks, offseason moves, injuries and all information you need to evaluate each Defense for the 2012 season.

 

AFC SOUTH:

Jacksonville Jaguars

2011 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2011 Final Rank Against ( vs Position) 25 27 25 8
2011 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 20 11 22 2
2011 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
55.6 25.3 8.3 -1.4
2012 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2012 Projected Rank Against ( vs Position) 23 15 19 13
2012 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 26 4 2 5
2012 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
58.1 24.3 15.4 .6
Breakdown
The biggest news in the offseason for the Jacksonville Jaguars was the hiring of head coach Mike Mularkey.

The biggest news on defense was the signing of free-agent cornerback Aaron Ross. Forced into a starting role for the first time since 2008 last season after Terrell Thomas’ ACL rear, Ross responded with a highly-average campaign, but was solid in coverage. He notched 60 tackles and a career-high four picks. Ross is capable of playing both in the slot and on the outside, and has even seen time at safety. He’ll provide veteran insurance for a team that was ravaged by injury in its secondary late in 2011.

Look for Ross to be the Jaguars’ No. 3 safety and No. 3 cornerback.Jacksonville also re-signed many of its own free agents in cornerback Rashean Mathis, defensive end Jeremy Mincey, safety Dwight Lowery and defensive tackle C.J. Mosley.

Mathis is recovery from ACL surgery but expects to be ready for the start of training camp. He is coming off a late-season ACL tear and Ross signed a relatively large offseason contract, so the latter figures to be the favorite. Coach Mike Mularkey indicated that the loser of the Mathis-Ross battle will be the Jaguars’ nickel back. Ross should cover the slot on passing downs regardless Derek Cox is expected to keep his starting right cornerback spot.

The Jaguars’ defensive draft class included Clemson defensive end Andre Branch, who was fhe ACC’s sack leader with 10.5 as a senior, he brings athleticism, closing quickness, and an impressive 82″ wingspan as a much-needed pass rusher opposite Jeremy Mincey. Branch is already penciled in at right defensive end, though it remains to be seen if he can hold up against the run on early downs.

Also in later rounds, Nevada linebacker Brandon Marshall, Florida State cornerback Mike Harris and Ashland defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton.

The Jaguars expect DE Austen Lane to take a “major step forward” in his third NFL season. Lane appeared in just six games last season, before suffering a significant shoulder injury. Now healthy, Lane will compete for playing time at left defensive end.

The Jaguars also expect DT Tyson Alualu to make a ”major step forward” in his third NFL season. ”We wouldn’t have gone from 28th to fifth (ranked defense) if Tyson didn’t play like he did,” DL coach Joe Cullen said. ”He really has a chance to come into his own this year. If he’s on a healthy knee he can be as explosive as he’s shown in some of the games he’s dominated. More splash plays, the sacks.” Alualu has dealt with a knee cartilage problem since entering the league, but the Jaguars hope that surgery will correct it.

With the Colts rebuilding and the Texans losing a number of key players in free agency, this would have been a great time for the Jaguars to upgrade their roster, but they only had so much salary cap room to make moves. As a result, the AFC South could be a three-team race in 2012.

The Jaguars secondary was a top matchup for opposing fantasy QBs and WRs at the end of 2011, but that was because of injury. However, they still only faced bottom 10 QBs and WRs. In 2012 they face bottom 5 QBs, but some of the highest scoring WRs in the game. Uh, oh.

2012 Offenses Faced by Week (each position)

click to enlarge

Tennessee Titans

2011 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2011 Final Rank Against ( vs Position) 20 7 23 14
2011 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 25 16 29 24
2011 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
29.2 25 -20.1 12.1
2012 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2012 Projected Rank Against ( vs Position) 20 12 16 7
2012 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 28 7 9 2
2012 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
54.2 31 6.7 6.1
Breakdown
The Tennessee Titans scored in signing free agent linebacker Kamerion Wimbley as an excellent consolation prize for a team that missed out on Mario Williams as it got bogged down in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.

Wimbley has essentially been a 3-4 outside linebacker for most of his career, but he will play right end in Tennessee’s 4-3 defense. He’s notched at least 6.5 sacks each of the past three seasons. The Titans have a lot of pass-rush potential, with Derrick Morgan a full year removed from ACL surgery on the left end and the explosive, high-motor Wimbley rushing off the weak side.Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray expects the addition of Wimbley to help spur Morgan’s production. Coming off a torn ACL in 2011, Morgan managed just 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 15 appearances (10 starts). He should regain explosion a full year removed.

This should greatly improve a pass rush that notched just 28 sacks in 2011. That was good for 31st in the NFL even though they didn’t face very good QB and WR talent all season.

The Titans unfortunately lost corner Courtland Finnegan to the Rams. He graded out very well against the run and pass. Alterraun Verner is working in the old Cortland Finnegan role during Titans Organized Team Activities. As Finnegan showed, it’s a productive spot from an IDP standpoint.

The Titans also signed DT Leger Douzable to a one-year contract. According to Pro Football Focus, Douzable was a highly effective run-stopper while picking up significant snaps down the stretch last year in Jacksonville.

The Titans also re-signed safety Jordan Babineaux and defensive end Dave Ball.

Tennessee’s draft class included North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown. Brown is perhaps the most athletic linebacker in this year’s draft class, but has a reputation as an “avoid contact” player. A rangy 6-foot-1, 244 pounds to go along with 33 1/4-inch arms, Brown will compete with Will Witherspoon and Gerald McRath for a starting job at outside linebacker, but could be limited to passing downs as a rookie.

Titans also aded Michigan nose tackle Mike Martin, Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin and Rice defensive end Scott Solomon-a potential nickel rusher, who started all four years at Rice while tying for the most sacks in school history.

The Titans didn’t make a huge splash in free agency, or in the draft, but the addition of Wimbley will likely prove to be their the defense’s biggest move of their 2012 offseason.

In 2011, they faced pretty weak RBs, WRs and TE with middle of the pack RBs.Yet they finished middle of the pack or worse against the passing game but did a good job vs opposing RBs.

2012 bring a very tough set of RBs, WRs and TEs as opponents, but their opposing QB production should stay about the same.

2012 Offenses Faced by Week (each position)

click to enlarge

Houston Texans

2011 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2011 Final Rank Against ( vs Position) 30 30 18 29
2011 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 26 26 23 25
2011 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
79.3 28.3 43.4 10.2
2012 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2012 Projected Rank Against ( vs Position) 27 18 19 27
2012 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 22 22 17 9
2012 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
71.8 21.7 45.1 10.2
Breakdown
In free agency, the Texans lost defensive end Mario Williams (Buffalo) and cornerback Jason Allen (Cincinnati).

Losing that many quality players that can’t be replaced because of salary cap limitations. Clearly the Texans have lost some very key players so a strong 2011 could have a tough follow up.The Texans attempted to compensate for their losses with the 2012 NFL draft class, even trading DeMeco Ryans to Philadelphia for a mid-round pick. The draft picks included: first-round Illinois defensive end/outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus Whitney Mercilus. Mercilius led the nation with 16 sacks. A natural edge rusher with 4.68 wheels at 6’4″ and 261 pounds, Mercilus posted 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles in a breakout season. Though he’s a bit raw as a speed rusher with limited moves and trouble against double teams, Mercilus has the explosive first step and closing speed to develop into a force in Wade Phillips’ defense. He’ll take Mario Williams’ place in a three-man rotation with Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed on perhaps the NFL’s most talented young defense. Texans have now taken a defensive player with their last 4 1st-round picks.

Texans also drafted defensive lineman Jared Crick from Nebraska.

Texans LBs coach Reggie Herring suggested that Bradie James is viewed as the starter next to Brian Cushing at inside linebacker. With four years in Wade Phillips’ defense, James has a decisive edge over Darryl Sharpton for the starting job.

The Texans got reasonable value on their draft picks, but based on all of the talent they lost, they will likely see drop off in their 2011 top ten rankings vs each fantasy skill position.

They don’t actually drop too hard in player ratings and could hold their own against the passing game but they have bottom 5 talent vs the run this season and see a slight improvement in opposing skill players.

Do not expect this defense to score top 5 in any categories like they did last year.

2012 Offenses Faced by Week (each position)

click to enlarge

Indianapolis Colts

2011 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2011 Final Rank Against ( vs Position) 13 5 4 26
2011 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 23 17 24 3
2011 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
-41.4 -27.5 18.4 -5.4
2012 Fantasy Defense
QB RB WR TE
2012 Projected Rank Against ( vs Position) 12 5 4 20
2012 Opponent Scoring Rank (Position Scored Against) 17 8 28 3
2012 Defensive Personnel Ratings Overall Run Pass Rush Pass Cov
13.2 2.6 27.2 -16
Breakdown
With the Indianapolis Colts in full rebuilding mode, owner Jim Irsay said a tearful goodbye to Peyton Manning and gutted the Colts coaching staff and front office.The new hires in Indianapolis included general manager Ryan Grigson, head coach Chuck Pagano, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

The next order of business was for head coach Pagano to start signing ex-Baltimore Ravens to fit into his new defense. Pagano succeeded in bringing over defensive end Cory Redding. Competent both against the run and as a pass rusher, Redding graded out as one of the league’s top ends by Pro Football Focus in 2011, and will fit nicely into the Colts’ 3-4 defense. His signing is another sign Dwight Freeney has played his final snap for the “Horseshoe.”

After those moves, the Colts turned their attention to the NFL draft and secured some weapons for Andrew Luck to throw the ball to and concentrated mostly on offense.

Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis has begun running and cutting in his recovery from ACL surgery. Mathis expects to be ready for the start of training camp, which is what the majority of NFL players say in the offseason even if it’s overly optimistic. Mathis will be eight months removed from surgery by the beginning of August.

Colts CB Kevin Thomas has a chance to start opposite Jerraud Powers this season. A third-round pick in 2010, Thomas has the size to fit what new coach Chuck Pagano wants to do defensively, but lost his rookie campaign to knee surgery and appeared in just nine games last season. Second-year CB Chris Rucker also projects for an expanded role following the departure of Jacob Lacey.

It will take some years for the Colts to build the team back up into contention, but the 2012 offseason was a good start towards that end.

They actually did really well against opposing fantasy RBs and WRs in 2011but didn’t face a top set of opponents. The RBs they face in 2012 are going to be much tougher so they should drop in those rankings.

2012 Offenses Faced by Week (each position)

click to enlarge


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