Madden 20 player ratings are out and as always, they are decisive to put it mildly.
Whether your Keenan Allen, who is boycotting the game over what he perceives to be a disrespectful rating, or you’re a fan of the Packers and can’t believe what rating Aaron Rodgers has received, there’s a lot to to argue about.
However, what if I told you that the majority of the ratings are wrong and that players are in fact rated too highly?
The 90s should be saved for players in their prime, the best of the best in the league, whereas at the moment it feels like very good players are being banded as elite.
Madden made a big deal of the 99 club, limited to four players who are viewed as the perfect player – and that’s great, even if there’s debate as to who should be the elite.
But when you then have a whole host of players who are in the ballpark of that select few, it doesn’t mean as much.
There are some generational talent in the league at the moment but how many, when it is all said and done, will be able to hold a candle to those in Canton?
Madden have claimed that the ratings are more spread out this year and while this is somewhat true, the league still looks and feels top heavy.
According to them it’s broken up into:
- Elite/near elite players
- Quality starters
- low level starters
- and low-level backups
And developers say that Madden 20 will have 72 players rated 90+ which just feels like a lot – does the NFL have that many elite/near elite players?
Are that many players close to being the perfect player?
Take Patrick Mahomes, the reigning MVP, the cover star.
At 97, Madden is saying he’s pretty much the perfect quarterback now and isn’t going to improve much over the rest of his career.
The Chiefs QB is up there with the best in the league in his position, I’m not debating that for a second, but leave some room for development.
When he admits he still has a lot of learning to do, coaches agree that he can, and will, get even better then Madden needs to reflect it.
“I feel like at times last year I would get, I don’t want to say lazy, but basically lazy with how I was handling my feet in the pocket,” said Mahomes in an interview with Matt Derrick in Lindy’s Sports Pro Football 2019 Preview.
“It would disrupt timing on throws, so keep working on those things so they can be more and more consistent as I can go on.”
That’s a player who is still working on his game and if he was rated 90 for example, as he develops better footwork, and in turn his timing on throws improves, then we can talk about him in the high 90s.
There’s no argument that he could be the greatest quarterback of all time, but that’s in a few years.
From where this writer is standing, it is up for debate who is the best quarterback in the league is and while Mahomes is captivating, he has a way to go before he should be rated above some of the veterans in the league – but he’s on the cusp.
I’m fine with having Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers in the 90s, all are in their prime at the moment or approaching it – even Brees, Brady and Rivers who continue to defy logic – and believe me, I understand I am contradicting myself – Mahomes is up there but not at the head of the table.
If you take everyone down a couple of overalls, then the entire league feels more balanced.
Take a look at the running backs in the upper bracket of the ratings.
Barkley is rated as 91 heading into his sophomore season in the NFL.
While his rookie year was spectacular, should he already be such highly rated?
He’s rated one less than Le’Veon Bell who has been has achieved far more in the league than the Giants star and Barkley is better rated than Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey and Kareem Hunt.
Is he already better than David Johnson, who is the same as Chris Carson and worse than Joe Mixon?
Most of those players should be classed as quality starters bordering on near-elite.
Look at DeAndre Hopkins, rated 99. What does that say about Antonio Brown? Odell Beckham Jnr? Julio Jones? Michael Thomas?
For how good Adam Thielen is, is he really 94 overall, an elite receiver in the same breath as the aforementioned stars?
Is he one better than teammate Stefon Diggs?
Is Richard Sherman still the third best corner in the league, rated 93?
Denzel Ward at 88 is better than Marshon Lattimore and Aqib Talib, both rated 87, really?
Xavien Howard only rated 83 – that would be fine if he wasn’t coming off a season where everyone said he was on of the best corners in the league.
If these ratings were for head-to-head only, I could get behind that.
But when booting up franchise mode, it immediately feels out of sorts.
After one season in the league, Ward is not the 12th best corner, he could be by the end of this season – ironically he was graded as the 12th best corner by Pro Football Focus but they also had Jalen Ramsey as the 24th and Madden has him as the best.
A roster I used on the back end of M19 was one created by That Franchise Guy.
His complete overhaul brought the players rated 90+ down from 89 to 57 – in his world there are 57 elite/near elite players and the game feels like that.
His top 5 QBs are Rodgers at 95, Brady at 94, Brees at 92, Wilson at 90 and Mahomes at 88.
Recievers? Hopkins at 97, Jones and Brown at 96, Beckham at 94 and Green at 91. Keenan Allen and Michael Thomas are both rated 90 and while you can argue that Thomas should be higher, the guys in the 90s you would consider the best in the league.
Thielen is a very good receiver but his rating feels like recency bias.
As for the corners, in TFG’s world only two are rated in the 90s, Pat Pete at 91 and Darius Slay at 90.
Ramsey is an 89, as is Stephon Gilmore.
Boosting the latter duo into the 90s would be the better move, especially Gilmore, but in the grand scheme of things in this bubble, it works.
Madden lives in the here and now and over compensates for what players did last year, the what have you done lately argument.
But it should be more nuanced than that. How much of it is players having out an outlier season?
MLB The Show seems to get their ratings more balanced across the field.
Mike Trout was the only 99 and in his position, the next best player is rated 86 – that’s how Madden should be rated.
The Bryce Harper’s, 90, Aaron Judge’s, 93, feel more realistic and even Mookie Betts, 97, is there after four seasons under his belt.
Ultimately, Madden is never going to get the ratings spot on, it’s to inexact a science, but there’s a way to make their game feel authentic and at the moment, there are too high on way too many players for the game to feel like what you see under the bright lights on Sunday’s.