Madden 18 – AFC East – CFM Preview – Team Grades

Madden 18 – AFC East – Team Preview

Each season with each new madden I’m asking myself the same question – What team do I want to use in the upcoming Connected Franchises? This leads to many other questions such as what are the most important positions. What positions can I sacrifice and many more!

Over the last few instalments those answers change and change significantly. It was only 3-4 Madden’s ago where all I wanted were Man Corners – then it was Zone Corners. Not to mention it was only 2 Maddens ago you could get by with a O-line acquired through the scraps of Free Agency. All these things are no longer the case and team selection is as important as ever in controlling your connected franchise destiny.

In this article we look at the AFC East and analyse the teams suitability from a Madden 18 CFM perspective looking at if they are the right fit for you!

Buffalo Bills

When you look at the Bill you see some great talent in the main 3 positions QB, RB & WR – Taylor, McCoy & Watkins. The defense on the other hand has a  few question marks – most people will point to the loss of Gilmore as the biggest impact but this is where I disagree – the loss of Zach Brown to the Redskins leaves a massive hole as he ranked in the top 5 ILB last season and goes a long way to weaken this defense as it looks to switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3.

Player to Watch: Reggie Ragland – For me the Mike position in this team is a foregone conclusion with Preston Brown being your guy – but it is the OLB positions that are where things get a bit murky. Ragland missed all of his rookie season with an ACL; but was a damn fine Madden player with 89 AGI; in a 4-3 defense he is something to look out for and could cause a bit of trouble for most teams, I see him being potentially the Thomas Davis of Sean McDermotts new team and he could be in Madden. I would also keep a watchful eye over 2nd year player Shaq Lawson – this Bills pass rush can be deadly if he gets going.

Over-Rated Player: Kyle Williams – This may not be viewed as a popular pick. I think Williams is a good player and would be great in most teams but I don’t like the fact that he contributes to $8.3m against the cap making him the 7th most expensive player on the team. With the move to a 4-3 defense and the depth at the position with Worthy/Washington/Coleman I think you could look at shifting him and do something to improve your defensive depth at other positions or WR where I feel the team is its weakest, speaking of which.

Weakness: Wide Receivers, Here is where I start my rant about this team; Sammy Watkins is a great Madden WR (overrated in real life) & I think Zay Jones has great potential (I think the rookies on this Bills team is a big plus) But outside of these two you have journeymen WR’s – Andre Holmes / Jeremy Butler / Brandon Tate / Philly Brown – doesn’t exactly bring much confidence. I personally feel this team needs that slot WR who is shifty and fast and can catch across the middle with their backups I don’t think they have this. Although I would keep my eye out on if Boldin does sign with the team which has been rumoured.

Wrap-Up: Overall the team has the key pieces it needs on Offense with Taylor, Shady & Watkins. But the lack of talent outside of the trio is worrying (besides a decent O-line) and the defensive depth is a concern – The Bills Management of their team over the past few years has been pretty poor as evident by the lack of rookie retention (Gilmore, Williams, Robey-Coleman) and loss of key signings (Zach Brown) – However being able to use Tyrod & these rookies soften the blow and bring up the grade albeit slightly.

Ultimately I see Buffalo as a team that shouldn’t be picked within the top 20 – but with proper list management over the first few seasons can be turned into the diamond of the AFC East.

Connected Franchise Grade: C-


Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are a hard team to judge; both in real life and Madden. The offense has the talent everywhere – Parker, Stills, Landry, Ajayi. But like in real life it is the QB that brings everything together and another instance where Madden echos real life is Tannehill – I feel he is that his form is hot and cold and there is never any consistency – there are a lot of missed passes. Looking at the defense there are plenty of concerns outside of Suh, Howard & Jones there is nothing that is particularly great and there feels like there is a lot of work to do on the D side of the ball.

Player to Watch: Xavien Howard – Only played a few games last season but this is one guy who has a lot of potential – he has great physical stats – excellent speed and showed that at times during his handful of games. I rate him highly as do a lot of Dolphin fans and he has potential to be a big time corner in Madden come Year 2-3 in the leagues – watch out for this guy! (The rookie DE – Charles Harris is another one to watch a lot of potential and could be one of the best Dolphins players come the 2nd season)

Over-Rated Player:  Ryan Tannehill – Ok I may be a bit harsh here – however hear me out. This guy takes up $20.3m against the CAP, making him the 7th highest paid QB this season! I find it very hard to justify spending that amount of money – he earns the same as Aaron Rodgers!!! Whilst his speed does suit Madden his accuracy lets him down and there are cheaper and better options around and given the tools around him in this offense he is dead-money to me. A trade all day get that cap space back if possible and spend it on…….

Weakness: DB’s & LB’s- I like Howard & Jones but that’s where I stop with the Fins DB’s – I think Maxwell is a decent corner and should get some great upgrades considering his performance from last season and perhaps the new DB/WR mechanics will mesh well with his style. But outside the no 1-2 CB’s is where I feel it is thin – I like to have an agile slot corner to keep up with the likes of Brandon Cooks, Edelman and your other nasty slot WR you’re going to compete against – I don’t feel the Dolphins have this. Jones is one of my favourite players on this team but Nate Allen is a serviceable player but he isn’t going to give you that over the top help you’re going to need from time to time. Looking at LB I like Alonso & Timmons but these guys aren’t as great as they were a few years back they are purely stop-gap guys. Raekwon McMillan will come on strong but this has to be the position you fix to keep up with the powerful offenses in the AFC – Patriots, Steelers, Raiders.

Wrap-Up: The offense (bar Tannehill) is exceptional and one of the factors why this team should go in the top 15; but the defense has a lot of concerns and does hurt it a bit but there is a lot of room for improvement and if your able to do some cap movement with Tannehill you can make a very strong team.

Connected Franchise Grade: B-


New York Jets 

This franchise has changed significantly since the days of Rex Ryan and it appears they are in full rebuild mode with a lot of leavers in the past – their offensive line has a few holes although Carpenter was a good add in the offseason but outside of that there is nothing great about the O-line. The defense is a better picture with Davis returning (decent Madden LB) and a decent front 7 and a relatively Ok secondary with Skrine leading the team at CB.

Player to Watch: Jordon Jenkins – I think Jenkins flew under the radar last season in a lot of circles. With most of the concern from fans relating to Darron Lee and his under-performance. Jenkins was fantastic off the edge for a rookie pass rusher. Towards the end of last season he played quite well with 3 sacks in the last quarter of the season. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the 2nd best rookie pass rusher behind the DROY – Joey Bosa.

Overrated Player: Muhammad Wilkinson – Coming off a poor 2016 season and is sure to impact his Madden Ratings with his sacks dropping to 4.5 from 12 the previous season – and his performances have been inconsistent. Also coupled with this that the amount of cap space he takes up $18m being the most out of the team you have to expect productivity from the position – which is not the case here – I think there is better players out there then Wilkinson and the cap could be used better for instance by:

Weakness: QB Position – Okay people who know me know I’m a Bryce Petty fanboy – I was all over this kid a season or two ago I thought he would adapt well – boy I was wrong – McCown isn’t going to set anything alight either – Personally I feel this is the one area in the CFM you need to address first – as McCown and Petty don’t have the arm or accuracy respectively to win you games. Madden like the real thing on Sunday is mostly dependant on whose behind centre and both aren’t going to win you games – coupled that with the horrid schedule the Jets have it is not a great position to be in – so either Trade/Draft a QB within the first season.

Wrap Up: The Jets are clearly in a rebuild mode with a youth movement in store and that will appeal to a few CFM users however there are just too many challenges to overcome – There is no QB to rely on and the WR aren’t there yet (The TE’s are quite good) the Defense partially makes up for lack of an offense with a lot of exciting talent – But simply put this team is tanking for Darnold in real life and I think in a CFM they would be tanking for that no 1 QB.

Connected Franchise Grade: E


New England Patriots

The reigning superbowl champs, for some reason I always find the Pats to not be up to their lofty real life standards in Madden. Unlike the Seahawks/49ers etc in prior installements who were strong the Patriots are just there – A consistent team but with nothing great in terms of Madden – They haven’t had that speedy WR whose going to burn you or they always have that CB your taking his name in vein which he misses an assignment (I’m looking at you Logan Ryan). But for Madden 18 that has changed!

Player to Watch: The Running Backs – Okay I’m cheating here a bit – but one of the things I love about this year’s Patriots are those Running Backs – Lewis, White, Burkhead, Gillislee etc. These sort of players help in making teams honest you have a host of players who can catch the ball out of the backfield and this will then be able to set up the longer passes down the field. Just looking at the checkdown potential on this team I’m sure Joe Flacco wishes they have the same set up in Baltimore so he can checkdown on 4th and long (I’m not a bitter Chargers fan I promise). Ultimately – this group of running backs that is going to cause fits. If the Offensive blocking continues to improve as it has the past few years the screen game is going to be a pain to stop with these shifty guys.

Over-Rated Player: Stephon Gilmore – Personally I think the guy gives up more plays than he makes and his Madden play echos this. He is an aggressive corner and whilst he can make that play  9/10 times he gets caught in bad position which can cost you. Usually Madden ratings will follow their prior year performance and looking at Gilmore he allowed over 60% of passes thrown his way to be caught for 15.6 yards per a catch. Ranking him as the 61st ranked CB per PFF.  Considering the lack of depth in last years FA Class he was genuinely overpaid for what he delivers – however this is a guy who still has that high ceiling and perhaps with McCourty and Butler there he won’t have to be rellied on as much as he was in Buffalo.

Weakness: Linebackers – Outside of Hightower I think this is a big weakness for this team. When I look at a defense the first position I look at is the LB’s to see if there is any speed there so I can user across the middle to prevent cheap passes and stop outside runs – Since the Collins trade a year ago this position hasn’t been replaced by an Athlete. Instead there is David Harris. Who I think is purely a serviceable LB and doesn’t provide that added ability that is required in Madden.

Wrap-Up: Unlike previous instalments of Madden the Patriots actually look like a Powerhouse – that offense is going to be a lot of fun to use with those running backs and the WR’s with Cooks & Edelman. Coupled that with some great FA and Trades with Gilmore & Ealy.

Ultimately, this Patriots team is going to be a tough team to stop on the offense and their upgraded pass defense is going to make it hard for you to get those much needed yards.

Connected Franchise Grade: A

That concludes are AFC East CFM Grading – We will be covering the rest of the divisions over the upcoming week – What are your thoughts on the grades and weaknesses for each team – Are any of those grades insanely wrong?