Despite all of the issues Madden NFL 18 has from poor online servers to an atrociously untouched franchise mode, we're still complaining about which players were rated too highly and who was too low. If you ever wanted to know why the sports gaming industry is becoming more and more of a joke, there's your answer.
Today, we're going to look at some of the worst Madden ratings in the past three years and some that, believe it or not, were actually pretty good. As always, there are some ground rules. This is going to be fun...
As always, there are some ground rules. This is going to be fun...
- As I mentioned, these are day one ratings. We are not taking into account ratings from week one, week seven, week 17, or after the Super Bowl.
- There will be only one occurrence of a player and a 99 overall rating. You're free to make arguments about why Tom Brady wasn't a 99 in this game or J.J. Watt was in this game, but there are more pressing players to discuss. There's a reason why I'm going to mention said player in the 99 overall discussion.
- We are discussing player ratings only. Team ratings are another conversation entirely...
- With Madden NFL 18 being the most recent game, there will naturally be more ratings from there than Madden 16 and 17.
If we've gotten all of that out of the way, maybe we should just get into the game...
20 Worst: Russell Wilson - 89 overall (Madden 16)
One of the most important lessons learned in high school wasn't watching what you put on social media or that Adderall can help you get a higher SAT score (which is a myth believed by the foolish) is that if a professor gives you a grade ending in a 9, they're trying to send you a message. Given Russell Wilson was given an 89 overall rating just a few short months after throwing a goal-line interception to end Super Bowl XLIX, I'm going to guess this was EA mocking the former Super Bowl champion for not handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.
By no means am I suggesting Wilson should have been in the high 90s, but to only get an 89 overall after completing 63.1 percent of his passes for 3,475 yards and a 20-7 TD-INT ratio? I don't see anything suspicious there...
19 Accurate: Rob Gronkowski - 99 overall (Madden 16)
Some might argue this was a post-Super Bowl bias, but Gronkowski played like he really was the best tight end in football during the 2014 season, catching 82 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns while making his second All-Pro team. Not bad, right? Add 16 catches for 204 yards and three touchdowns during that postseason and I think he earned the 99 overall. We knew what Rob Gronkowski was and this was before he really began to struggle with staying healthy (although he had played less than 16 games for the third straight season), so this was a good call.
For what it's worth, the other two 99s in the Madden NFL 16 day one release were Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt. I think EA got this one right, no?
18 Worst: Damon Harrison - 84 overall (Madden 17)
Looking back, I think this was a case of raters looking at Harrison's lack of sacks (half a sack in 2015 and only 1.5 sacks for his career) and saying he was a slightly above-average defensive tackle who flourished with the New York Jets' defense. If that's the case, then the voters failed to look at Harrison making the Pro Football Focus All-Pro second-team following that 2015 season, which seems curious.
Even if Harrison had yet to become the All-Pro defensive tackle he did with the 'other' New York team last year, I'd have to think he should have been roughly an 87 given closer examination of his play. Was this a case of the raters getting this wrong, or simply tuning him down so the Giants' defense wasn't too powerful?
17 Best: Joey Bosa - 88 overall (Madden 18)
More often than not, I don't like second-year players getting an insanely high rating unless they absolutely deserve it - and even then, there's a limit. There's no reason Odell Beckham Jr., even if he made that infamous catch the previous season and even if he was the cover athlete, should have been a 94 in Madden NFL 16. But, that's me personally nitpicking, so we'll let that slide.
Joey Bosa earning an 88 overall following a rookie season that saw him record 10.5 sacks in 12 games (11 starts) following a holdout, however, is about what I'd have given him. Like Harrison, he's someone who passed the eye test not necessarily by beating up on weaker defenses or getting his sacks in garbage time, but by showing the strength that made him the third overall pick last year. Bosa is already off to a solid start this year, so how far are we away from him being a 99 overall?
16 Worst: C.J. Anderson - 82 overall (Madden 17)
Earlier, I mentioned Odell Beckham's infamous one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys as potentially being part of why he received such a high overall in Madden 16 and C.J. Anderson - who ended the New England Patriots' undefeated season with a walk-off touchdown in the snow - may have gotten similar treatment.
Anderson totaling 903 yards from scrimmage a year after making the Pro Bowl is by no means a bad season, but I do think an 82 overall was a bit unfair on both sides. Again, this is where I say two or three points makes a difference because I'd probably have put Anderson at either a flat 80 or an 84, especially with the Broncos not having much in the quarterback department. Either go high or go low, but not an 82.
15 Best: Jordan Howard - 85 overall (Madden 18)
And on the other hand, I have no shame in admitting I was worried the raters would give Jordan Howard an insanely high overall because of how bad the Chicago Bears are this year. Howard's rookie year of 1,313 rushing yards, six touchdowns, and 1,611 all-purpose yards was fantastic, but the Bears are so down in the dumps - and they've looked the part to start the season - that an 89 or 90 overall didn't seem unrealistic at all for the second-year running back.
But, maybe I was worried for nothing because the raters absolutely nailed this pick. Howard should have been anywhere from an 84-86 so an 85 was perfect. Hopefully for Howard and his fantasy owners, he'll be able to figure things out sooner rather than later and bounce back from his slow start.
14 Worst: Percy Harvin - 86 overall (Madden 16)
On one hand, I feel like this should be higher. On the other hand, unlike some of these other choices, I can at least somewhat understand why Percy Harvin was an 86 overall in Madden 16. When - and if - Harvin was healthy, he could be a dangerous offensive option on the ground, in the passing game, and on kick returns. Fine, no one was going to deny that... but no one was going to deny he couldn't stay healthy either. By this point in his career, Harvin was still living off a 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and a jaw-dropping start to the 2012 season before he got hurt (that's also what enabled Leslie Frazier to lean so much on Adrian Peterson that year) and there was no guarantee he'd stay on the field. Again, I can understand the rating, but I also don't agree with it.
13 Best: Teddy Bridgewater - 82 overall (Madden 16)
I'm aware the inclusion of Bridgewater will be a fairly strange one, especially with such a low rating, but let's think about this for a second. In a rookie year that saw him recognized as the Pepsi Offensive Rookie of the Year, Bridgewater put up numbers (2,919 yards with a 64.4 completion percentage and a 14-12 TD-INT ratio) that in past years would have put him at around an 86-87 overall. Remember when Vince Young entered the NFL with an 87 overall in Madden?
But here, the developers said, "wait, let's keep Bridgewater's rating fairly tame" and an 82 overall was more than enough to fit that billing. However, as we'll discuss in the coming overalls, that philosophy with quarterbacks may have reached a bit of an extreme level. But for now, EA was dead on with Bridgewater.
12 Worst: Todd Gurley III - 85 overall (Madden 17)
I'm aware Gurley has been inconsistent since the start of last season, but I couldn't have been alone in being surprised his stellar rookie season (1,106 yards with 4.8 yards per carry and ten touchdowns) only resulted an 85 overall in Madden 17? Gurley seemed like the type of player EA would give some preferential treatment to, especially given the Rams increased exposure in last year's game as a result of their relocation to Los Angeles.
But, there is a difference between my concern about Gurley being an 85 and me being alright with Jordan Howard getting the same treatment, so I owe you an explanation: Gurley was a first-round pick and did what he did behind an ugly offensive line; Chicago's offensive line, while not stellar, at least had Matt Slauson and Kyle Long. Gurley did more with less, so what's the deal?
11 Best: Richie Incognito - 90 overall (Madden 17)
My reasoning for this one is simple: EA was able to focus on Incognito's excellent play in his 2015 comeback season and give him a grade worthy of that without snubbing him as a result of the 2013 bullying incident. But wait, you ask, why would EA care and try to hurt a player's overall because of that? This is game developers we're talking about, folks, we never said even their best decisions make sense.
Regardless of how you feel about that case (personally, I think it was way overblown by the media beforehand and it forced the NFL's hand to investigate in the form of the Wells Report; all parties were wrong, but Incognito should have handled things better), it'd have been easy to dock a player for his role in that. EA gave the rating on the play, not the character, and that's why we commend them.
10 Worst: Tyler Eifert - 91 overall (Madden 18)
I have nothing against Tyler Eifert, although I do think Bengals fans have extremely overrated him in the past three years; no one will say Eifert's 2015 Pro Bowl season wasn't good, but is a 52 catch, 615 yard, 13 touchdown season really that elite? In eight games last year, did Eifert really perform well enough to carry a 91 overall into this year's game?
I'm not going to say catching 13 touchdowns isn't impressive, but I don't know how Eifert was even close to being above maybe an 88 overall with that factored in. When is he healthy? When he is healthy, is he truly that much of a gamechanger to where he's worth a 91 rating? But, there's worse ratings on this list, so prepare...
9 Best: Danielle Hunter - 86 overall (Madden 18)
With nearly 1,700 players on active rosters each week, it can be easy for players like Danielle Hunter to fall through the cracks of the main raters. But after recording 18.5 sacks in his first two seasons for the Vikings, EA made sure to give Hunter the credit he deserved with an 86 overall rating, not at all bad for a player entering his third season.
Some Vikings fans may suggest Hunter be closer to 90 - I think an 88 would have been the absolute highest for the former LSU Tiger - but 86 is a fair number. Besides, when you look at some of the other players on this list and how they were snubbed by EA despite their own success, I think it's hard to argue with Hunter's 86 overall.
8 Worst: Colin Kaepernick - 81 overall (Madden 16)
Forget all of the political debates and the anthem protests for a bit to answer me this: in Madden 15, Colin Kaepernick was an 89 overall after completing 60.5 percent of his 478 passes for 3,369 yards, 19 touchdowns, ten interceptions, and rushing for 639 yards on 6.1 yards per carry over 104 rushing attempts. All of those were career-highs, but the 49ers went 8-8 and missed the postseason. Is that the only reason Kaepernick is an 81 overall in Madden 16?
If you go back and watch Kaepernick's film from the 2014 season, there are admittedly some early signs of regression or mechanic issues, but that 49ers team was banged up and forcing Kaepernick to play completely different than he had in past years. Honestly, there was a serious case for making this the top choice, but there were three worse options...
7 Best: Delanie Walker - 93 overall (Madden 18)
I know how easy it can be to forget about Delanie Walker and what he brings to the table for the Tennessee Titans, but I am so glad the developers remembered his importance when doing this year's ratings. A year after catching 65 passes for 800 yards and seven scores - part of a three year average that has seen him average 74 catches, 926 yards, and six touchdowns each year - Walker was awarded a 93 overall in Madden, exactly what i'd have given him. Well, I'd have gone with either a 93 or a 94, so there's no issues here.
Unfortunately, while those doing the ratings may have gotten Walker right, there's one of his teammates that was screwed over massively. Who will it be? I'll let you prepare...
6 Worst: Orlando Scandrick - 86 overall (Madden 17)
Leading up to the 2016 season, USA Today wrote, "Scandrick is either overrated or underrated depending on who is giving the analysis and what bar was just walked into. The bottom line is he is the core of the secondary; elite at slot and good enough to play on the outside (which is why he once supplanted Morris Claiborne at the position). This followed a 2015 season Scandrick missed entirely for a torn ACL, so them calling him a strong starter is fine.
But still, an 86 overall in a game that had a heavy focus on improved defense? I don't get it, especially not when he was coming off an injury following a season that may have been a fluke. I'd likely have gone 82 or 83 here, but there's worse options...
5 Best: Landon Collins - 92 overall (Madden 18)
Well, you could make the case Collins should have been a flat 90, but go back and watch the film from his first two years. What a find the New York Giants found in the 2015 NFL Draft's second-round, landing an All-Pro safety in Collins that should be the anchor of that Steve Spagnuolo defense for years to come. Remember, Collins actually had an extremely strong case for winning Defensive Player of the Year after grabbing five interceptions, bringing one back for a touchdown, getting to the quarterback four times, and recording 125 tackles.
Oh, and don't forget the Titans traded the pick the Giants used on Collins for a pick they'd use on Dorial Green-Beckham. 92 is probably the absolute highest I'd have given Collins and EA seemed to imagine what i was thinking, so I'd say everything came up Millhouse.
4 Worst: Marcus Mariota - 80 overall (Madden 18)
I won't lie: this was likely going to be my number one worst rating, but the top choice(s) bothers me more. That's not to say I have anything against Mariota, but the other two...well, for my sanity, let's focus on this one. After a solid rookie season in 2015 overshadowed by his 3-9 record as a starter, Mariota broke out in a big way last season and had the Titans on the verge of a playoff spot for breaking his leg. Does completing 61.3 percent of your passes (on 7.6 yards per attempt no less!) for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and adding 349 yards on the ground with two scores there sound like he'd be worthy of an 80 overall?
How is Mariota not at least an 86 or an 87? Even if he was an 85, I'd be content, but an 80?? And somehow, there's a worse pick?
3 Best: Matt Ryan - 84 overall (Madden 17)
Putting Matt Ryan as an 84 last year seems insane in hindsight, but let's think about the three-year average for the former first-rounder from 2013-15; Ryan went 18-30 in 48 starts and completed 66.6 percent of his 1,893 pass attempts for an average of 4,600 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions across those three seasons. For all intents and purposes, Matty Ice was putting up Eli Manning numbers and, when you think of what rating would be a fair one for Eli, an 84 is about right.
Now, I'm not saying Ryan should have had such a low score because of his win-loss record, but I am saying EA did a good job not propelling him upwards off his name alone. Let's just say Ryan earned starting this season with a 96 overall...
2 Worst: Brandon Graham - 92/95 overall (Madden 17/18)
What is Madden and EA Sports' obsession with Brandon Graham? At what point did the developers say over the past two years that he deserves to be ranked among the league's best pass-rushers? Somehow, Graham was the second best pure defensive end on this year's day one rosters behind only J.J. Watt (if moved to DE, Rams DT Aaron Donald stays a 99).
This year alone, here are some of the names below Graham on the day one rosters when it comes to defensive ends:
- Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints (92)
- Calias Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars (91 and that's slightly questionable as well)
- Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks (90)
- Cameron Wake and Melvin Ingram, Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers (89 each)
- Jason Pierre-Paul and Oliver Vernon, New York Giants (88 each)
My brain is going to explode. Please, let me find a rating that makes sense to end this list...
1 Best: Ramon Foster - 88 overall (Madden 18)
When I was younger, maybe my favorite parts of checking video game overalls wasn't what the stars were earning, but the key players that never get much mention or are overshadowed. What did NBA 2K or Live give Jason Collins on the Nets? How high was Hideki Matsui's bar on any of the MLB games? Here, Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster, who was an 88 in this year's roster, takes that title.
Why Foster? Last month, I published a column about players who were underpaid and likely regretting their current contracts and included Foster, one of the main reasons Le'Veon Bell has put up fantastic rushing seasons the past few years. Foster didn’t surrender a sack in 14 starts last year and was ranked second at left guard – only behind Baltimore’s Marshal Yanda – according to Pro Football Focus.
EA is recognizing the big uglies and the guys often forgotten about. Not bad!
Which of these ratings do you think was the most disgraceful? Who had the most spot-on rating? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!