AFC South Defenses and Defensive Coordinator

Last season the AFC South is where fantasy players came to get passing yards points and rushing yards points. The Houston Texans ranked last in rushing yards allowed, while the Tennessee Titans ranked last in passing yards allowed.

The Titans have the same defensive coordinator this season. Meanwhile, the Texans have a new head coach, a defensive guru, and a new defensive coordinator. Regarding other division changes, the Indianapolis Colts have a new head coach but have retained their defensive coordinator from last season. The Texans, as mentioned earlier, have a completely new coaching staff.

Will the AFC South pick itself up from the bottom? Or will the 2023 season be business as usual?


AFC South 2022 Stats


Rush Yds Allowed/G

Pass Yds Allowed/G

Yards Allowed/G

Points Allowed/G



Houston Texans

170.2 #32nd

209.3 #10th

379.5 #30th

24.7 #27th



Indianapolis Colts

124.1 #20th

209.9 #11th

334.0 #15th

25.1 #28th



Jacksonville Jaguars

113.8 #12th

238.2 #27th

352.0 #24th

21.4 #14th



Tennessee Titans

76.9 #1st

274.8 #32nd

351.6 #23rd

21.1 #12th




Houston Texans-Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke

In the AFC South, the Texans are the only team that will have both a new head coach and new coordinators.

The Texans’ head coach, DeMeco Ryans, is a defensive guru. He has stated, most recently at the NFL Combine, that it is unclear who will be making the defensive calls.

However, here is what we know about Houston’s potential defensive scheme.

Burke was the defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals last season.

After being signed to be the defensive coordinator for the Texans, Burke has stated, “As a baseline philosophy, we all believe if you can get after the passer with a four-person rush and not have to commit extra resources to that, so your coverage elements can stay pure, that’s the best thing. If you don’t have that defensive line and you have to start adding pieces to the pass rush, you’re taking away from the coverage.”

That connects with what Ryans has been doing in San Francisco. Last season Ryans had three first-round picks in his defensive line and none in his back seven.

Regarding fantasy football, Ryan’s last team had two defensive linemen in the top 20 for fantasy points. They had one defensive back in the top 10. There were no other relevant fantasy IDP players.

Free Agency

The Texans have been busy during free agency. Most of the defensive acquisitions appear to be geared toward run defense. That makes sense because the Texans allowed the most single-season rushing yards (2894) ever!

But the Texans currently hold 12 draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Round1, 2nd Pick
  • Round 1, 12th pick (from Cleveland)
  • Round 2, 33rd pick
  • Round 3, 65th pick
  • Round 3, 73rd pick
  • Round 4, 104th pick
  • Round 6, 179th pick
  • Round 6, 188th pick (from New Orleans)
  • Round 6, 201st pick (from Minnesota)
  • Round 6, 203rd pick (from New York Giants)
  • Round 7, 259th pick (Compensatory)

Fantasy Relevance

Last season Jerry Hughes averaged 7.4 fantasy points per game. He was DL33 in fantasy scoring.

Christian Harris was LB61 averaging 10.6 fantasy points per game in his 12 games.

DB2 in fantasy last season was Jalen Pitre. Pitre was on the field for all 17 games and averaged 14.0 fantasy points.

Look for the defensive line to have a better fantasy season in Houston.  

Jacksonville Jaguars-Defensive Coordinator Mike Caldwell

This will be Caldwell’s second season as the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville. Last season the Jaguars’ defense ranked 24th in yards per game allowed and 28th in passing defense.

Per Next Gen Stats, the Jaguars had 209 pressures which tied for second in the NFL. However, they only managed 35 sacks, tied for the 25th in the league.

Fantasy Relevance

Defensive end Josh Allen was fourth in pressures (64) but only had seven sacks. Allen finished the season as DL19 in fantasy points.

Moving Travon Walker to outside linebacker was a bust, as Walker finished the season with only 3.5 sacks.

The winner for fantasy players was linebacker Foyesade Oluokun. He averaged 17.4 fantasy points per game and finished as LB1 and IDP1 in fantasy. For the regular season, Oluokun finished with 184 total tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and five passes defended.

Free Agency

The Jaguars were quiet this season in free agency (compared to last year). But they currently have nine picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Round 1, Pick 24
  • Round 2, Pick 56
  • Round 3, Pick 88
  • Round 4, Pick 121 (from Tampa Bay)
  • Round 4, Pick 127
  • Round 5, Pick 185 (from Houston by way of the New York Jets)
  • Round 6, Pick 202
  • Round 6, Pick 208 (from Philadelphia)
  • Round 7, Pick 226 (from Carolina)

Indianapolis Colts-Defensive Coordinator, Gus Bradley

Shane Steichen is the new head coach for the Colts. He retained the services of last year’s defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

The Colts defense was a mixture of failure and success last season. They were in the bottom five in points allowed per game (25.1) but in the top 15 in both passing yards allowed(209.9) and total yards allowed per game (334).

Although the team finished 20th in rushing yards allowed per game (124.1), they were in the top 10 in sacks (44), tackles for loss (91), forced fumbles (13), and fumble recoveries (11).

Bradley’s defensive scheme:


Fantasy Relevance

Last season linebacker Zaire Franklin set the single-season franchise record for total tackles (166). He also finished as LB4 in fantasy scoring, averaging 15.5 fantasy points per game.

DeForest Buckner collected 74 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery to finish as DL11 in fantasy scoring. Buckner averaged 9.9 fantasy points per game.

Defensive tackle Grover Stewart had single-season career highs in total tackles (70), solo tackles (44), tackles for loss (9), sacks (4), passes defended (3), and fumble recoveries (1). He finished the season as DL24, averaging 7.7 fantasy points per game.

Free Agency

The Colts’ defense lost linebacker Bobby Okereke (who had a single season career high in tackles last season (149), cornerback Brandon Facyson in free agency, and traded away cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

The Colts acquired defensive end Samson Ebukam from the San Francisco 49ers and defensive tackle Taven Bryan.  

Ebukam had career highs last season in sacks (5), quarterback hits (13), pressures (43), and tackles for loss (7).

The Colts currently have nine picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Round 1, Pick 4
  • Round 2, Pick 35
  • Round 3, Pick 79 (from Washington)
  • Round 4, Pick 106
  • Round 5, Pick 138
  • Round 5, Pick 162
  • Round 5, Pick 169 (compensatory pick from Dallas)
  • Round 7, Pick 221
  • Round 7, Pick 236 (from Tampa Bay)

Tennessee Titans-Defensive Coordinator-Shane Bowen

Like it ever was, Bowen is the longest-tenured defensive coordinator in the AFC South. He has been the Titans’ defensive coordinator for two seasons now.

Last season in Tennessee, the defense was a tale of two halves. From Weeks 1-11, the defense ranked 12th in defensive DVOA. In Weeks 1-11, only the Buffalo Bills scored more than 22 points against this defense that ranked 12th in points allowed per game (21.1).

But after Week 12, the Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Philadelphia Eagles scored at least 27 points on the team that ranked 30th in defensive DVOA.

Fantasy Relevance

The Titans did not have an IDP player ranked in the top 20 for fantasy scoring.

Free Agency

The Titans signed cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting to a defense that ranked 32nd in passing yards allowed (274.8). Last season Bunting was on the field for 53% of the defensive snaps in Tampa Bay. He finished the season with seven passes, defended two interceptions, and one forced fumble.

Linebacker Arden Key was signed after his three starts playing 41% of the defensive snaps in Jacksonville, where he finished the season with 4.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hits.

The Titans currently have six picks in the NFL 2023 Draft.

  • Round 1, Pick 11
  • Round 2, Pick 41
  • Round 3, Pick 72
  • Round 5, Pick 147
  • Round 6, Pick 186 (from Atlanta)
  • Round 7, Pick 228

And This