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Madden 21 Franchise Mode Mega Strategy Guide

Madden 21’s pre-order is available tomorrow, so I figured I’d lend my years of experience in Franchise Mode offer up some tips for drafting the perfect team. A little background: I’d been playing Madden religiously from 2000 (the one with just John Madden on the cover) until 2014 when I retired from playing. From 2008 - 2013 I would take two PTO days from work the day the game came out and player 12+ hours on those days to get caught up on any new features. In college (2004 – 2008) and played conservatively ~30 hours of Madden a week and was regarded as one of the top players amongst anyone I knew. I had a group in college that would play a lot and we started some leagues post-college where we’d draft players in a franchise with 32 teams (more on that later). One of my favorite things to do would be to download the Madden Player Ratings and look for good value plays with maybe not the best overall number, but had traits I could mold based on my playing style. So that’s what I’m going to do in this blog, give you the ideal way to build your Franchise team in Madden 21. I'll break down where to spend your premium draft capital and early round picks and also show you where you can get some value later in the draft. But before we start:

A few general tips before we get into specific positions:

  • Stopping the run and running the ball are the key to winning. Running the ball can be done as long as you commit to it, so make sure you spend premium draft capital on stopping the run.
  • Speed kills, make sure you have a fast team.
  • When drafting, don’t overvalue Quarterbacks. There will be 32 starters and you’ve got plenty of guys who won’t be officially starters in the league that can make due based on traits.

Defensive Tackles

As I stated above, the key to Madden is stopping the run and running the ball. On offense, you’re in full control of whoever has the ball, so that outcome is completely on you. If you’re good enough, try to load up with more playmakers on defense, as that is the more unpredictable side of the ball. I like to spend premium picks on Defensive Tackles because they are the closest to the Quarterback and can affect runs the most, even if they don’t put up sexy stats. With this position I focus on Strength and Block Shedding. Any pass rush moves are bonus.

Steven Cheah historical - My favorite player to draft to start every Franchise - Ravens DT Haloti Ngata. 1st rounder virtually every time back in my day.

Premium Pick Worthy:

RE Aaron Donald - 99 Overall - (99 Strength, 97 Block Shedding, 99 Power Moves, 97 Finesse Moves)

DT Fletcher Cox - 96 Overall (95 Strength, 86 Block Shedding, 96 Power Moves, 77 Finesse Moves)

DT Kenny Clark – 90 Overall (95 Strength, 92 Block Shedding, 89 Power Moves, 73 Finesse moves)

DT Michael Pierce – 91 Overall (96 Strength, 94 Block Shedding, 81 Power Moves, 62 Finesse Moves)

Best Values:

DT Linval Joseph - 85 Overall (98 Strength, 88 Block Shedding, 77 Power Moves, 50 Finesse Moves)

DT Brandon Williams - 86 Overall (96 Strength, 91 Block Shedding, 72 Power Moves, 50 Finesse Moves)

 

EDGE Rushers (includes DEs and Rush OLBs)

In addition to stopping the run, we need to get after the Quarterack. So with this position I’m looking at get-off, so I am valuing Acceleration, Speed, and Finesse Moves. Power Moves are nice, but how often are you running completely over an Offensive Tackle AND making a sack on the same play? There is some good value here, but it’s also a good place to spend some premium picks. Let’s start with:

Premium Pick Worthy:

LE Danielle Hunter – 89 Overall (90 Acceleration, 88 Speed, 91 Finesse Moves)

RE Nick Bosa - 89 Overall (91 Acceleration, 79 Speed, 91 Finesse Moves)

Best Values:

RE Brian Burns - 79 Overall (91 Acceleration, 88 Speed, 84 Finesse Moves)

RE Montez Sweat - 76 Overall (93 Acceleration, 91 Speed, 77 Finesse Moves)

LOLB Shaqueem Griffin - 73 Overall (91 Acceleration, 91 Speed, 75 Finesse Moves)

ROLB Samson Ebukam - 80 Overall (90 Acceleration, 87 Speed, 82 Finesse Moves)

RE Chase Young 85 - Overall  (91 Acceleration, 85 Speed, 80 Finesse Moves)

RE Frank Clark - 83 Overall (90 Acceleration, 83 Speed, 80 Finesse Moves)

RE K’Lavon Chaisson - 74 Overall (90 Acceleration, 85 Speed, 72 Finesse Moves)

 

(Stand-up) Linebackers

We’re building a track team here. We want guys that can run (Speed). After that we’ll prioritize Tackle to ensure we can stop the run and Awareness because we’ll want to be in position to make those tackles. Hopefully by drafting some big Defensive Tackles, Block Shedding’s importance can be minimized and these guys can be kept clean.

Steven Cheah historical - I would usually control the Linebacker. My move was the jam the opposing Tight End and neutralize him from the play. If I did that, then there would be 6-7 defenders to cover 3-4 eligible receivers, which are numbers I can live with.

Premium Pick Worthy:

MLB Deion Jones - 86 Overall (91 Speed, 85 Tackle, 84 Awareness)

Best Values:

MLB Devin White - 78 Overall (92 Speed, 83 Tackle, 78 Awareness)

MLB Devin Bush – 76 Overall (90 Speed, 83 Tackle, 80 Awareness)

MLB Jerome Baker – 74 Overall (89 Speed, 83 Tackle, 76 Awareness)

MLB Patrick Queen – 72 Overall (89 Speed, 82 Tackle, 74 Awareness)

ROLB Foyesade Oluokun - 73 Overall (90 Speed, 79 Tackle, 74 Awareness)

Cornerbacks:

I was pretty heavy with man coverage when I was on the sticks. I’d certainly use come Cover 2 or Cover 3 on 3rd downs and to mix in early, but was primarily Cover 1 where all my Corners were manned up. So I’m valuing Man Coverage and Awareness. This is another position you’re going to want to spend some premium picks on.

Premium Pick Worthy:

CB Jaire Alexander – 90 Overall (93 Man Coverage, 92 Awareness, 93 Speed)

CB Casey Hayward Jr. – 89 Overall (92 Man Coverage, 93 Awareness, 89 Speed)

CB Marlon Humphrey – 89 Overall (90 Man Coverage, 89 Awareness, 92 Speed)

CB Patrick Peterson – 88 Overall (89 Man Coverage, 87 Awareness, 91 Speed)

CB Desmond King II – 87 Overall (88 Man Coverage, 92 Awareness, 88 Speed)

Best Values:

CB Justin Coleman – 84 Overall (86 Man Coverage, 88 Awareness, 88 Speed)

CB Jimmy Smith – 83 Overall (85 Man Coverage, 85 Awareness, 88 Speed)

CB Joe Haden - 83 Overall (84 Man Coverage, 91 Awareness, 88 Speed)

CB Steven Nelson – 81 Overall (84 Man Covearge, 86 Awareness, 89 Speed)

CB Johnathan Joseph – 81 Overall (84 Man Coverage, 86 Awareness, 89 Speed)

CB Levi Wallace – 78 Overall (80 Man Coverage, 78 Awareness, 90 Speed)

 

Safeties

The last line of defense. But they’re also able to cause a ton of problems playing against a live opponent or CPU. You can roam them around and be non-traditional, but they also can make a ton of plays if you play your cards right. They way Madden 21’s player ratings shake out, you’re going to want to spend some premium picks in this area. I focus on Awareness (which is heavily tied to Overall rating) and Speed as the main factor with Tackle and Zone Coverage the other two keys.

Steven Cheah historical - Very good Madden players can be extremely effective controlling Safeties. In my most glorious win, it was a Super Bowl in an online Franchise league with 31 other players. I had given up a disheartening late drive and was down by 4 with :29 seconds to go and one timeout. My opponent controlled the Safety and did it well. I ran a Hail Mary out of a 1x3 formation and when I saw him move the Safety very slightly over to the right (towards the overloaded side), I knew I'd likely have a 1-on-1 to my 4th Receiver, Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson was a speedy Receiver, so he could get on top of a Corner. Lucky for me that's exactly what he did and I hit him for 75 yards on the second play of the drive. Essentially a walk-off, season ending win. Incredible. Here is a photo from I took on my phone from after the game:

Premium Pick Worthy:

FS Devin McCourty – 92 Overall (94 Awareness, 90 Speed, 74 Tackle, 93 Zone Coverage)

SS Jamal Adams – 92 Overall (89 Awareness, 91 Speed, 80 Tackle, 92 Zone Coverage)

FS Kevin Byard – 91 Overall (89 Awareness, 90 Speed, 79 Tackle, 93 Zone Coverage)

FS Eddie Jackson – 89 Overall (91 Awareness, 88 Speed, 70 Tackle, 94 Zone Coverage)

SS Tyrann Mathieu – 93 Overall (95 Awareness, 90 Speed, 76 Tackle, 90 Zone Coverage)

FS Earl Thomas III – 88 Overall (88 Awareness, 88 Speed, 77 Tackle, 89 Zone Coverage)

Best Values:

FS Duron Harmon – 80 Overall (90 Awareness, 87 Speed, 67 Tackle, 85 Zone Coverage)

FS Tre Boston – 79 Overall (82 Awareness, 87 Speed, 74 Tackle, 84 Zone Coverage)

FS Anthony Harris – 83 Overall (89 Awareness, 87 Speed, 70 Tackle, 83 Zone Coverage)

FS Marcus Williams – 85 Overall (87 Awareness, 89 Speed, 76 Tackle, 82 Zone Coverage)

 

Offensive Tackles

These guys will keep your Quarterback healthy so you don’t have to go to your backup. I do like to run off tackle, but we keep it simple and just focus on Pass Block here. Not Finesse Block or Power Block, but just Pass Block. It makes it harder to find value, but some do stand out like:

Premium Pick Worthy:

RT Bryan Bulaga - 88 Overall (91 Pass Block)

Best Values:

LT Russell Okung – 76 Overall (82 Pass Block)

RT Ja’Wuan James – 77 Overall (82 Pass Block)

LT Andrew Whitworth – 86 Overall (88 Pass Block)

LT Laremy Tunsil – 85 Overall (86 Pass Block)

LT Duane Brown – 84 Overall (85 Pass Block)

LT Charles Leno Jr. – 81 Overall (83 Pass Block)

 

Offensive Guards

We need some powerful dudes here. We’re going to get a majority of our rushing yards off of these hog mollies, so let’s prioritize Run Block here. They shouldn’t be a major priority when drafting as you can get good value in the later rounds

Premium Pick Worthy:

None

Best Values:

LG Laken Tomlinson – 75 Overall (81 Run Block)

RG Austin Blythe – 78 Overall (82 Run Block)

LG Rodger Saffold III – 84 Overall (88 Run Block)

LG Daryl Williams – 71 Overall (77 Run Block)  

LG Mike Iupati – 74 Overall (78 Run Block)

RG Graham Glasgow – 76 Overall (79 Run Block)

RG Brian Winters – 79 Overall (82 Run Block)

LG Will Hernandez – 78 Overall (79 Run Block)

LG Andrus Peat – 78 Overall (79 Run Block)

RG (Dr.) Laurent Duverynay-Tardif – 78 Overall (79 Run Block)

 

Centers

We’re looking for smart players with good Awareness and ability to Pass Blocking. We need guys that can figure out who to double and pick up delayed blitzers. We also prioritize Run Blocking as on 3rd & Short we’re not running it outside, we’re going right up the gut!

Premium Pick Worthy:

None

Best Values:

C Weston Richburg – 79 Overall (91 Awareness, 80 Run Blocking, 77 Pass Blocking)

C Erik McCoy – 78 Overall (88 Awareness, 78 Run Blocking, 79 Pass Blocking)

C Corey Linsley – 78 Overall (90 Awareness, 77 Run Blocking, 79 Pass Blocking)

 

Tight Ends

George Kittle is a perfect Tight End, but he’s a 98 Overall and there ain’t no way I’m paying top dollar for a Tight End in Madden! But I can show you how to get a cheaper version of Kittle for pennies on the dollar that can likely produce similar results. In this position I value speed a lot. We need our Tight Ends blazing by Linebackers. I also throw to the Tight End on the money down and when I need a conversion on 3rd or 4th & short, so Catching and Catch In Traffic are both important there. If they can do anything Run Blocking, that’s a positive. Pass Blocking? Doesn’t matter. If you’re using your Tight End to Pass Block, you’re doing it wrong!

Premium Pick Worthy:

None

Best Values:

TE Trey Burton – 80 Overall (85 Speed, 76 Catching, 80 Catching In Traffic, 74 Run Blocking) *must get player. Incredible blend of traits and only valued at an 80!

TE Jonnu Smith – 75 Overall (88 Speed, 83 Catching, 79 Catch In Traffic, 59 Run Blocking)

TE Albert Okwuegbunam – 66 Overall (88 Speed, 83 Catching, 80 Catch In Traffic, 55 Run Blocking)

 

Runningbacks

We need speed backs that can get the corner on a toss sweep, but we’re also looking for good Carrying ratings as fumbles are completely unacceptable. Catching is also important as I like to split my backs out with some pre-snap motion, so they need to be a threat as a receiver. 

Steven Cheah historical - In Madden 2005, I ran for 529 yards in a game at Green Bay on Monday Night Football. It was with Titans RB Chris Brown. I believe it was on 31 carries give or take one or two. It's certainly not 529 yards, but I do have this picture on my phone from breaking the rushing record with Doug Martin on just 20 carries. If he had any real juice we could have challenged my personal record with Brown in that game.

Premium Pick Worthy:

None

Best Values:

HB Tony Pollard – 75 Overall (93 Speed, 86 Carrying, 70 Catching)

HB Nyheim Hines – 75 Overall (93 Speed, 83 Carrying, 68 Catching)

HB Matt Breida – 79 Overall (95 Speed, 85 Carrying, 67 Catching)

HB Raheem Mostert – 84 Overall (95 Speed, 88 Carrying, 63 Catching)

HB Phillip Lindsay – 85 Overall (93 Speed, 93 Carrying, 65 Catching)

HB Jonathan Taylor – 73 Overall (93 Speed, 80 Carrying, 63 Catching)

 

Wide Receivers

Now you want this to be an eclectic group. You don’t want all of one type of receiver. If you have all Speed Receivers, everyone will uncover at the same pace and you’ll have less time to make decisions. I like to focus on some distinct field stretching Speed Receivers and some more reliable, underneath Receivers with good Catching and Catch In Traffic ability. I’ll highlight who I like where:

Premium Pick Worthy:

WR Kenny Golladay – 86 Overall (90 Speed, 91 Catching, 95 Catch In Traffic)

Best Values:

WR D.K. Metcalf – 79 Overall (95 Speed, 82 Catching, 86 Catch In Traffic) *he does it all. Must get player and only a 79 Overall.

WR Henry Ruggs III – 76 Overall (98 Speed, 83 Catching, 79 Catch In Traffic)

WR Courtland Sutton – 84 Overall (89 Speed, 92 Catching, 92 Catch In Traffic)

WR Mecole Hardman – 76 Overall (97 Speed, 84 Catching, 77 Catch In Traffic)

WR Marquise Goodwin – 78 Overall (97 Speed, 81 Catching, 79 Catch In Traffic)

WR Larry Fitzgerald – 83 Overall (83 Speed, 93 Catching, 91 Catch In Traffic)

WR Mike Williams – 81 Overall (89 Speed, 86 Catching, 88 Catch In Traffic)

WR John Ross III – 76 Overall (96 Speed, 78 Catching, 75 Catch In Traffic)

WR Tyrell Williams – 82 Overall (92 Speed, 83 Catching, 88 Catch In Traffic)

WR Rico Gafford – 55 Overall (96 Speed, 75 Catching, 68 Catch In Traffic)

 

Quarterbacks

The premium position in all of sports. Certainly this will be worthy of a 1st round pick? Wrong. Let other players use their high picks on a QB. You’ll definitely need a good one or two, but there are areas to capitalize on. I always valued Throw Power. The instant you take the snap, you’ve got a ticking clock to get rid of that ball. I personally want a guy who can load up and uncork one really quick to put it on his Receiver. I also value Throw Accuracy Short, Throw Accuracy Mid, and Throw Accuracy Deep in that order. Throw On The Run is a nice to have too for when you’re escaping and Speed is also an added bonus. Any QB who can run is a big plus.

Steven Cheah historical - My favorite Madden QB ever actual was a Premium pick in his day, Titans (and later Ravens) QB Steve McNair.

Premium Pick Worthy:

None

Best Values:

QB Kyler Murray – 77 Overall (90 Throw Power, 85 Throw Accuracy Short, 83 Throw Accuracy Mid, 84 Throw Accuracy Deep, 90 Speed, 85 Throw On The Run)

QB Josh Allen – 77 Overall (99 Throw Power, 78 Throw Accuracy Short, 79 Throw Accuracy Mid, 76 Throw Accuracy Deep, 87 Speed, 87 Throw On The Run)

QB Justin Herbert – 70 Overall (92 Throw Power, 84 Throw Accuracy Short, 78 Throw Accuracy Mid, 76 Throw Accuracy Deep, 87 Speed, 81 Throw On The Run)

QB Jameis Winston – 76 Overall (90 Throw Power, 85 Throw Accuracy Short, 83 Throw Accuracy Mid, 84 Throw Accuracy Deep, 81 Speed, 85 Throw On The Run)

QB Jacob Eason – 63 Overall (93 Throw Power, 80 Throw Accuracy Short, 73 Throw Accuracy Mid, 73 Throw Accuracy Deep, 82 Speed, 72 Throw On The Run)

 

Kicker

Just find a guy with great Kick Power and work on the accuracy yourself

Premium Pick Worthy:

None

Best Values:

K Graham Gano – 79 Overall (99 Kick Power)

K Brett Maher – 69 Overall (99 Kick Power)

K Joey Slye – 73 Overall (98 Kick Power)

Punter

Same deal, find a guy with great Kick Power. Practice and get good at accuracy.

Steven Cheah historical - Not sure this will ever be broken, but I once had a 97 NET yard punt. Punting from my own 2 yard line at Denver on a rainy day, I directionally kicked it and it rolled all the way to the 1 yard line where I giddily downed it to the fanfare of nobody.

Premium Pick Worthy:

None

Best Values:

P Bryan Anger – 73 Overall (95 Kick Power, 80 Kick Accuracy)

P Braden Mann – 71 Overall (95 Kick Power, 77 Kick Accuracy)

P Cameron Johnston – 69 Overall (96 Kick Power, 66 Kick Accuracy)

 

What My Final Team Would Likely Look Like

QB1 – Kyler Murray – 77 Overall

QB2 – Justin Herbert – 70 Overall

HB1 – Tony Pollard – 75 Overall

HB2 – Nyheim Hynes – 75 Overall

HB3 – Jonathan Taylor – 73 Overall

WR1 – Kenny Golladay – 86 Overall

WR2 – Henry Ruggs III – 76 Overall

WR3 – DK Metcalf – 79 Overall

WR4 – Larry Fitzgerald – 83 Overall

TE1 – Trey Burton – 80 Overall

TE2 – Jonnu Smith – 75 Overall

LT – Russell Okung – 76 Overall

LG – Laken Tomlinson – 75 Overall

C – Weston Richburg – 79 Overall

RG – Austin Blythe – 78 Overall

RT – Ja’Wuan James – 77 Overall

 

RE – Nick Bosa – 89 Overall

DT – Fletcher Cox – 96 Overall

DT – Linval Joseph – 85 Overall

LE – Danielle Hunter – 89 Overall

Rotational DE – Montez Sweat – 76 Overall

LB – Devin White – 78 Overall

LB – Devin Bush – 76 Overall

Rotational LB – Jerome Baker – 74 Overall

CB1 – Jaire Alexander – 90 Overall

CB2 – Justin Coleman – 84 Overall

Nickel CB – Desmond King II – 87 Overall

CB4 – Levi Wallace – 78 Overall

FS – Anthony Harris - 83 Overall

SS – Jamal Adams – 92 Overall

Rotational Safety – Tre Boston – 79 Overall

K – Graham Gano – 79 Overall

P – Bryan Anger – 73 Overall

See you in the Super Bowl! 

Thank you to anyone that made it all the way to the bottom of this journey and have fun to everyone playing Madden21!