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The Sports Desk – Rating Madden 17's Offensive Stars, Gameplay Videos & NBA 2K17

by Matthew Kato on Jul 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Madden NFL 17 developer EA Tiburon has started to publish the ratings for some of the game's players, and you know what that means – it's time to complain! Seriously, though, I've brought in an expert to dissect what we know so far about some of the title's top offensive players. Also be sure to check out a collection of Madden 17 videos I've recorded showing off specific gameplay aspects, including a blocked punt!

I've brought in fantasy sports hall of famer, leaguesafe.com owner, Madden player, and host of KFAN's Video Games Weekly radio show Paul Charchian to poke and prod the ratings on some of this year's offensive players from a Madden, fantasy, and real-life NFL perspective.

Here are the top-rated Madden 17 players that have been released so far. Click on the links to get the full ratings rundown (Once there, click the "Share" link to sort all the ratings).

  • Top 5 QBs: Aaron Rodgers (96), Cam Newton (94), Tom Brady (94), Ben Roethlisberger (93), Russell Wilson (91)
  • Top 5 RBs: Le'Veon Bell (94), Adrian Peterson (91), Doug Martin (90), Jamaal Charles (89), Lamar Miller (88)
  • Top 5 WRs: Antonio Brown (97), Julio Jones (96), Odell Beckham Jr. (93), A.J. Green (93), Deandre Hopkins (93)
  • Top 10 Rookies: Jalen Ramsey (82), Ezekiel Elliott (80), Ronnie Stanley (79), Roberto Aguayo (79), Joey Bosa (79), Jack Conklin (79), Laremy Tunsil (79), Corey Coleman (78), Hunter Henry (78), Deforest Buckner (78)  

Let's start with the quarterbacks – does Aaron Rodgers deserve to be number one?
I think when you put Rodgers number one with the highest overall ranking, there's obviously some legacy built into that, because last year he certainly didn't play that way. You take one receiver out, and all of a sudden Aaron Rodgers is sitting on a pretty average season in a lot of ways last year.

Then you look at a guy like Tom Brady, who has never had a Jordy Nelson since Randy Moss left the team, and yet Tom Brady remains as vital as ever. The 99 he has on awareness is absolutely earned. He's as good as any quarterback in the history of the game. And then the crazy accuracy numbers...

I don't know that I would have put Rodgers there, and I just think from a Madden standpoint, it's a lot more fun to play as Cam Newton. I understand why Rodgers is there, but if I had my choice at quarterback, I would pick Cam Newton just to play with.

What about the rest of the top five QBs?
The top five's got Roethlisberger in it, which I don't have a big problem with, but I think if you just wanted to get nit-picky you could say, "Well, what about Carson Palmer, what about Drew Brees? Maybe an Andrew Luck or even Tony Romo."

Roethlisberger – I think fantasy guys know this more than Madden players – his home/road splits are goofy. For example, over the last two years he's averaging three touchdowns at home and one on the road. We're talking about two full seasons of work. That's a trend, not a mirage.

Talking about Brady's consistency, Rodgers' falling apart without Jordy Nelson, and Roesthlisberger's success at home – are all of those things a matter of intangibles that ratings can't capture?
That's a great point. You can only put numbers on so many things. They do a great job of getting a lot of things, like that Ben Roethlisberger is really hard to tackle. They can account for that. There are guys that have overcome adversity, there's leadership – those things are hard to quantify. Jay Cutler, for most of his career, has been a devastatingly bad leader, and that's not typically a thing you can throw a number on and be reflected in Madden-style gameplay.

These top-five running backs are all clearly excellent players. How do you differentiate them?
A couple of different ways. You're going to differentiate on pass-catching ability, which is always a big factor. You have to know what style of offense you want to run and find somebody who can catch if you want to be able to run plays that use your running backs that way. I tend to like guys who have some elusiveness so I that don't have to carry all the burden for elusiveness, and the game's going to provide some of that for me [laughs].

I wasn't crazy about Doug Martin as the third-highest overall running back. He's not a bad back, but I will be stunned if Doug Martin ends up in reality as the third-best running back. He ended up with good stats last year – second in rushing yards overall – but there just weren't that many explosive plays, those things you go, "Wow, that's only a play that Doug Martin can make," but Le'Veon Bell makes those plays. How is Todd Gurley not ahead of Lamar Miller and Doug Martin? He succeeded last year despite some of the worst quarterbacking in memory.

Adrian Peterson's carry stat of 81: It seems a little high....
That's ridiculous. It does seem a little high. That should be a 61.

It's too bad you can't do it situationally. Give him an 81 for normal parts of game and then have it plummet when the game's on the line.
It should plummet. Wouldn't that be fun if they could do it situationally? I was trying to think how they put Peterson on an 81, and I gotta believe that they may have only been looking at fumbles lost [laughs]. Maybe we as Vikings fans remember it because they always seem to be in such critical situations.

These top-five receivers are also a solid bunch. Any ratings numbers stick out for you?
I think actually that's a pretty accurate stat for Julio Jones, at 97 for his release, because he's so good at getting physical that he crushes press coverage on a regular basis to the point that a lot of teams don't try anymore.

Antonio Brown has a 95 release, and to me that one's a little more peculiar, because Brown's so much a slighter built, and he's not known as a guy who just powers through defenders at the line of scrimmage.

Certainly glad to see Odell Beckham Jr. has the 99 spectacular catch, because his catches are as good as anything we've really seen in the history of the NFL. We've really never had a player that makes the catches he makes. And that's not hyperbole, that's just how good he is.

Do you have an opinion on DeAndre Hopkins on this list and his abilities in real life?
I like that they put DeAndre Hopkins here. I like the fact that they really did numerically capture how good he is. Now, what struck me as a little bit interesting of all his ratings is his very modest elusiveness rating. DeAndre Hopkins is open a lot, and when he gets the ball he's able to do a fair amount with it. I was a little bit surprised to see an elusiveness rating at only 76 when his peers are largely in the 90s.

Would you take any of these guys in the first round of your fantasy football draft?
I would take all of them in the first round. In fact, I would take these top five guys in the first seven picks. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham Jr. should be the first players taken in the fantasy draft. And then I would go Gronk, and then I'm looking at DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Dez Bryant. All those guys should be right there.

Looking at the rookies...
Yeah, there were some really weird guys in here, I was very surprised.

People are certainly going to notice top QB picks Goff and Wentz not on this rookies list. Do they deserve to go on it?
Well, they don't if you're only looking at it as a one year thing. Carson Wentz isn't going to play this year. He's solidly number three on the depth chart and will likely not see any time. Goff is going to start, but he's taking over the worst passing offense in the NFL.

The worst by far [of Madden's top ten rookies] – Hunter Henry! Yes, he was the best tight end in a weak, weak tight end class, but anybody who has followed this game closely knows that tight ends do nothing in their rookie year. That position takes three-ish years to start to develop.

With that spot you could have a wide variety of potentially high-impact players like Kenneth Dixon in Baltimore, where he could easily be the week-one starter – he's a special back. Derrick Henry, who went in the second round [to the Titans], he was the second running back taken. He could easily be in this list. And at the receiver position, what about [Vikings' WR] Laquan Treadwell? What about Michael Thomas [WR picked up by the Saints], what about Sterling Shepard [WR for Giants]? Josh Doctson [Washington WR]? They're going to splash in year one, and Hunter Henry is not going to.

Tunsil shouldn't be here either. They're already talking about him moving to guard. The hope was if you're going to take a pick that high you're going to get help at tackle, which is a much tougher spot to pick.

Beyond this list as a snapshot of these players as rookies, do you think any of these guys will turn out to be flat-out busts in the long run?
Tunsil's got bust [potential] to him for sure. Corey Coleman may never develop because he doesn't have the requisite quarterbacking to develop. He's fast, but what we've figured out over the last 10 years especially is that speed is only one component. Just because you're able to run through college defenses doesn't mean you're a well-rounded player. And then again, Hunter Henry it's just going to take time, and who knows. It's a massive question mark for him.

We didn't talk tight ends, but it will be interesting to see what the drop off is between Gronk and the next-closest tight end. Because in real life, it's a huge drop off.

Jalen Ramsey and Ezekiel Elliot at the top, does that seem right?
Yeah, I have no problem with that. Ramsey is a freakish all-around athlete, and I love him. Ezekial Elliot is my number one running back for fantasy football purposes. It basically never happens where you get a combination of a rookie running back this good falling into a team that is ideally suited, not just for him, but for his running style. And the fact that he's a third-down back means he'll never come off the field.

 

MADDEN 17 GAMEPLAY VIDEOS GALORE

Madden developer EA Tiburon has talked a lot about how this year's title has a lot going for it on the gameplay front, and sometimes seeing is believing. I've compiled this group of videos to showcase some of the concepts and changes advertised for this year's game. This is from an early build, and things could change before release, but I think it's a good look at some of what the title has to offer.

Thanks to our video intern Leo Vader (leovader.com) for the fine editing work on these vids!

Note: These videos were taken from an early build of the game. Also, the commentary track on these videos has been disabled. Rest assured it will be in the final game.

AGGRESSIVE CATCHES NOT SO STRONG
Toning down the aggressive catch was a focus, and I think it's working. Not even Odell Beckham Jr. is catching some of these.

 

IMPROVED LINE PLAY
The running game feels better, and not just for the offense. The first clip shows a nice backside hole opening up, and you can see the optional running assist icon (those blue dashed lines showing which direction you're facing). Later clips show one defensive player setting an edge and getting a shoulder upfield while a teammate cleans up.

 

NEW BALL PHYSICS IN ACTION
The ball now reacts as its own collision object, so we should see more realistic ball swats and deflections (check out the beauty at the end of the clip). Also check out the fumble mechanic – including fumbles when the QB's arm is back. I like the Wentz fumble, because it shows him snatching the ball off the ground while it's in front of him, something we see QBs in real life.

 

PUNT BLOCK!
This was taken from the instant replay feature, which is why there's no sound. I was actually stunned when it happened, that's why my punter just stands there.

 

A NICE THROW BY CAM NEWTON ON THE RUN

 

RUNNING WILD

 

DEFENSIVE ZONES ARE HARDER TO THROW AGAINST
Here you see linebackers and defensive backs drop back into some different zones to make good plays on the ball. 

 

GOFF & WENTZ IN ACTION
Some nice throws by the rookies. My favorite is the strong out route thrown by Goff. That felt good.

Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.

Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

THE NBA 2K17 WISHLIST

Matt Bertz has compiled a big wish list of things for this year's installment, including:

 

THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

NHL 17 EASHL Customization Trailer

NBA 2K17 Embraces League Expansion

Marco Reus Is The Sole Cover Star Of FIFA 17

Rocket League Takes One Step Closer Toward PS4 & Xbox One Users Playing Against Each Other

Pro Skier Dies While Filming Steep Promo

Forza Horizon 3 Has Started Unveiling All Of Its 350 Cars

New F1 Trailer Showing More Gameplay