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Ranking the Best and Worst NFL Defenses: AFC East

Defenses matter a lot in fantasy football. If you can draft and matchup the right players against sub-par defenses, you have a recipe for success. It’s not as easy as just looking at the best and worst defenses from 2014 though, and that’s why we’re here to help.

In this eight article series, we’re going to take a look at all the defenses in the NFL. We’ll look at whether or not teams have improved for 2015, and dive into the passing and rushing defensive potential of every NFL team, one division at a time.

Today we are taking a look at the AFC East passing and rushing defenses, and their outlook for the 2015 fantasy football season. When this series is over, you will have a great grasp of which defenses to target for plus matchups.

In this eight article series, we're going to take a look at the passing and rushing defenses of every NFL team, one division at a time.

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AFC East Pass Defense Rankings

2014 Pass Defense Ranking per DVOA and Fantasy Points against Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers, per ESPN


Buffalo Bills

2014 Ranking: 1, 2, 8

Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, and Corey Graham were a lights out secondary tandem that led the Bills to the best pass defense ranking, per DVOA. Graham was the best cornerback by adjusted success rate in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Top Five

The Bills secondary is expected to return to full strength, but their biggest free agent acquisition was head coach, Rex Ryan. He will be able to send his wild blitz packages and still have his corners hold up the coverage; that is a scary picture of Ryan’s defensive schemes. The Bills also drafted Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby, to further bolster the secondary.


Miami Dolphins

2014 Ranking: 16, 9, 21

The Dolphins secondary was an average bunch consisting of cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan (now retired), Brent Grimes, and safety Reshad Jones.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Middle of Pack

Miami brought in cornerbacks Zack Bowman from the Giants and Brice McCain from Pittsburgh to replace Finnegan. Cornerback Will Davis will have to step up for the secondary to succeed, but they should be average yet again with the kind of pass rush they have and the relative ease of the AFC East offenses.


New England Patriots

2014 Ranking: 12, 11, 4

The Super Bowl winning Patriots boasted the best cornerback in the league, Darrelle Revis, while also having Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Browner, and safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Top Ten

Even though the Patriots lost Revis and Brandon Browner, Bill Belichick is a defensive genius and will figure out a way to stop any offense even with mediocre talent such as Logan Ryan and Bradley Fletcher. Belichick will still have Devin McCourty to help the weaker cornerbacks with his elite deep help. The Patriots’ also used their second round draft pick on Stanford safety Jordan Richards, although Belichick has missed on his secondary picks more often than not. Linebacker Jamie Collins is a great pass defender over the middle and adds another weapon for Belichick's potential pass rushing. Look out for Collins to really make a name for himself in the league this year.


New York Jets

2014 Ranking: 27, 28, 19

The Jets secondary last year for the majority of the season was as follows: cornerbacks Antonio Allen, Darrin Walls, Phillip Adams, and Kyle Wilson. That’s all that needs to be said about the Jets atrocious secondary last season.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Top Five

The Jets overhauled their atrocious cornerback situation last season by bringing back to town Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie while also signing the up and coming former Cleveland Brown, Buster Skrine. The Jets also signed away free safety Marcus Gilchrist from the Chargers. Head coach Todd Bowles will be working to coach up 2014 first round pick safety Calvin Pryor to make this secondary lethal.


AFC East Run Defense Rankings

2014 Rush Defense Ranking, per DVOA and Fantasy Points Against Running Backs, per ESPN:


Buffalo Bills

2014 Ranking: 12, 5

The Bills rush defense had a behemoth of a front line with Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, and Jerry Hughes.

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Top Five

The Bills returns their front line from last season and will only improve with the addition of Ryan is calling their plays.  The Bills will be a top five rushing defense this year due to Rex Ryan's ability to get the most out of his players. Running backs will have a terrible time facing this defense.


Miami Dolphins

2014 Ranking: 18, 19

The Dolphins got torched right up the gut last season, a big reason they failed to make the playoffs.

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Top Ten

The Dolphins signed the class of the free agent pool, run stuffer and one man wrecking crew, Ndamukong Suh, shelling out $60 million in guaranteed money. Teams will not be able to run down the Dolphins throat anymore with Suh manning the middle.


New England Patriots

2014 Ranking: 13, 15

An up and coming Patriots front seven with veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, led the charge up front.

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Top Ten

Patriots first round draft pick, defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, will make the fans forget about Wilfork. Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, and Jamie Collins will also be very effective in stopping the run. The Patriots will be able to stop the run when it counts.


New York Jets

2014 Ranking: 11, 10

The defensive line was the lone bright spot on this team last season. The Jets rush defense started off really strong last year, but tailed off as their season spun out of control.

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Top Ten

Even though Sheldon Richardson has been suspended four games, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams will shoulder the load and make this unit a top ten rushing defense. Nose tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison also returns and must play well in Richardson's absence. I can not wait to see the schemes Todd Bowles has in store for this Jets defense.


NFL & Fantasy Football Chat Room

Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.

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