Defensive trends expose weak NFC West

With 272 tackles and 11 interceptions in eight seasons, Nnamdi Asomugha is perceived as the golden ticket in this free agent blitzkrieg that is about to strike … err uhh err … envelop the NFL.

The obsession with the Raiders’ cornerback resets the NFL’s “defense wins championship” mantra. But it’s within fantasy football leagues where owners adopt an “exploiting opposing defenses wins championships” philosophy.

Recently, I dissected the defensive stats of all 32 teams versus the pass and run over the last three seasons. In the tables below, I assigned each team a pass and rush defense composite rating. The ratings are the teams’ average defensive rank from 2008-2010.

So, for example, the Buffalo Bills composite pass rating is six (above average) and rush rating is 28 (below average).

To take the study a step further, I averaged out each divisions’ pass and rush ratings. When it comes time to draft a fantasy team, this could assist owners in choosing between Player A and Player B.

Why?

If you knew a division is weak versus the pass and/or rush, perhaps you draft a running back or wide receiver from that division who will face a subpar 3-4 or secondary six times a season.

 

AFC Defensive Composite Ratings (2008-2010)

 

East

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

Buffalo

6

28

New England

17.66

13

Miami

19

11.66

New York Jets

12

6

AFC East Composite

13.67

14.67

North

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

Cleveland

20.33

27.66

Baltimore

10.66

4.33

Pittsburgh

9.66

2

Cincinnati

11.66

15.66

AFC North Composite

13.08

12.40

South

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

Indianapolis

11

24.33

Tennessee

23

12

Jacksonville

26.33

18.33

Houston

22.33

15.66

AFC South Composite

20.67

17.58

West

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

Oakland

6.33

29.66

San Diego

14.33

11.66

Kansas City

22.33

25

Denver

18

28

AFC West Composite

15.25

23.58

 

If you ever wondered why Peyton Manning is a highly coveted and successful fantasy quarterback, just take a look at the pass defense in the AFC South. The Titans’, Jaguars’ and Texans’ pass defense all rank in the bottom ten over the past three seasons. Manning’s status to start the regular season on time is in limbo (neck), but if he can go, the Colts’ QB should enjoy soft coverage at least six times in 2011.

Pittsburgh’s and Baltimore’s lockdown rush defenses may cause owners to devalue the likes of Cedric Benson (or whomever the Bengals running back is) and Peyton Hillis when four games come against two top-5 rush defenses.

On the flip side, Ryan Mathews’ and Mike Tolbert’s stock may skyrocket knowing the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos rush defenses are among the worst in the league.

 

NFC Defensive Composite Ratings (2008-2010)

 

North

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

New York Giants

11

10.33

Philadelphia

11.66

9.33

Washington

15.33

16.66

Dallas

17

9.33

NFL East Composite

13.75

11.41

North

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

Green Bay

7.33

15

Minnesota

15.33

4

Detroit

25

27

Chicago

21

10

NFC North Composite

17.17

14

South

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

Atlanta

23.66

15.66

Carolina

10.33

21.66

New Orleans

17.66

18

Tampa Bay

7

26.33

NFC South Composite

14.66

20.41

West

Pass 3-YR Rating

Rush 3-YR Rating

San Francisco

21.66

8.33

Seattle

29.66

18

Arizona

22.60

21

St. Louis

21

24.33

NFC West Composite

23.73

17.91

 

The NFC West is the worst defensive division in the NFL over the last three seasons. The Seahawks managed to break into the playoffs with a 7-9 record last winter, but don’t expect a repeat trip if they continue to rank 29th in pass defense and 18th in rush defense. Frank Gore and Steven Jackson owners are drooling.

The NFC East boasts the top rush-defense division since 2008. With the Cowboys and Giants healthier in 2011, expect the division’s rush "D" to improve.

Detroit is building a defense that can compete with their NFC North foes, but it’s going to take time. In 2010, the Lions ranked 16th against the pass (up 16 spots from 2009) and 24th against the run (up one spot from 2009).

The NFC South is vulnerable against the run, too. Atlanta has shown improvement and ranked 10th in 2010, but the Saints, Buccaneers and Panthers have all ranked in the bottom half of the league the last three seasons.

For more information on defensive trends, be sure to check out our Fantasy Football Draft Guide and more specifically our downloadable PDF file.

At the end of the day, whether or not these trends remain intact depends on a few factors such as health, coaching changes, schemes, and free agency.

Oh yeah, and if a defense signs Nnamdi Asomugha, with the emphasis on "ugh".

 

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