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Ranking the Best and Worst NFL Defenses: NFC South

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 NFC South 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.


NFC South Passing Defense Rankings

Stats listed are: 1) 2014 Pass Defense Ranking per DVOA, 2) Fantasy Points against QBs, 3) Fantasy Points against WRs, per ESPN


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2014 Ranking: 23, 22, 30

Cornerback Alterraun Verner and the rest of the secondary were simply awful last year.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Bottom Five

The arrival of free safety Chris Conte from Chicago and defensive back Sterling Moore from Dallas will not improve the secondary. The free agency losses of defensive end Michael Johnson (Bengals) and Adrian Clayborn (Falcons) will hurt. Free agent signing defensive tackle Henry Melton (Cowboys) will be an effective pass rusher like last season, but it will not be enough to salvage the horrendous secondary.


Atlanta Falcons

2014 Ranking: 31, 20, 26

The secondary of Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Dwight Lowery, and Ishmael Kemal was horrific last season, ruining their playoff chances.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Bottom Five

The Falcons brought in cornerback Phillip Adams (Jets) and drafted LSU cornerback project Jalen Collins in the second round. I watched Adams with the Jets last year and he was terrible. The Falcons will need their first round pick Vic Beasley to come in and play great to soften the load for this secondary. Either way, new head coach Dan Quinn will have his hands full as the Falcons adjust to the new scheme he will implement.


Carolina Panthers

2014 Ranking: 9, 16, 20

Cornerback Josh Norman and strong safety Roman Harper had very good years leading this secondary. Norman was 4th among leading role cornerbacks by adjusted success rate, per FBO. while Harper had four interceptions.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Middle of Pack

The Panthers signed Charles Tillman (Bears), but he suffered a second torn triceps injury last season. I believe he will be back to around 85 percent this season, and will make a very good duo with Norman. The team drafted Washington outside linebacker Shaq Thompson in the second round who will be another good player to defend the run and pass.


New Orleans Saints

2014 Ranking: 27, 29, 27

Three time pro bowler and two time second team All-Pro free safety Jairus Byrd was supposed to continue his stellar play in the Big Easy but he tore his lateral meniscus on October 2nd missing the rest of the season. 2013 First round pick safety Kenny Vaccaro and the rest of the secondary could not fill the void of Byrd.

2015 Projected Pass Defense Ranking: Bottom Ten

The Saints plucked Super Bowl winning cornerback Brandon Browner from New England to try and improve this secondary. He led the league in penalties committed, 15, including six pass interference and six defensive holding penalties. Have fun with him, New Orleans. Former Jets first round pick cornerback Kyle Wilson was also signed by New Orleans. The Saints second and third draft selections will be able to help also.

31st overall pick, linebacker Stephone Anthony, will be able to help cover tight ends, and second round pick, linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha, will hopefully help the Saints by being effective at rushing the passer.  Rob Ryan will likely have another difficult year coaching this defense as they try to get all these average veterans and new rookies to perform.


NFC South Rushing Defense Rankings

Per DVOA and Fantasy Points Against Running Backs, per ESPN


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2014 Ranking: 8, 23

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was one of the few bright spots on this defensive line last season.

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Bottom Five

The Bucs need Melton and McCoy to play well so this rush defense isn’t the worst in the league, but just like with the pass defense it won’t matter. The Bucs had so many problems last season and correctly used the first overall pick on Jameis Winston. This defense is a project still changing into Lovie Smith's Tampa-2 defense.


Atlanta Falcons

2014 Ranking: 30, 30

The defensive line of Malliciah Goodman, Paul Soliai, Tyson Jackson, and Jonathan Babineaux were overmatched by their competition.

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Bottom Ten

The Falcons did sign players this offseason to improve the rush defense: Clayborn, linebackers Justin Durant (Cowboys), Reed Brooks (Texans), and O’Brien Schofield (Seahawks). The team also resigned reality TV star Kory Biermann. The team will improve, but only slightly.


Carolina Panthers

2014 Ranking: 23, 17

The team boasts the best middle linebacker in football, Luke Kuechly, but even his 107 tackles couldn’t make this an above average unit.

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Middle of Pack

Run stuffing nose tackle Star Lotulelei is currently injured with a stressr eaction to his surgically repaired right foot and those types of injuries always scare me. If Lotulelei is hampered by his injury then that could cause Carolina major issues defending the run.


New Orleans Saints

2014 Ranking: 32, 29

The Saints would not have been able to stop Rob Ryan, at 52-years-old, if he suited up and tried running against them in practice last season. The defensive line was miserable. The lone bright spot was Curtis Lofton who recorded a team high 145 tackles

2015 Projected Rush Defense Ranking: Bottom Five

The Saints signed defensive end Anthony Spencer from Dallas, but he won’t be able to turn around the defensive line by himself. Linebacker Curtis Lofton departed to Oakland so the team traded wide receiver Kenny Stills to Miami for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Ellerbe was needed, but the loss of Lofton is bad. The Saints are in the worst stages of their rebuilding period, the rush defense will likely be awful again.


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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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