Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Guide

With only a few weeks until Madden 17 is officially released we now know the top rated players at most positions.  This seems to be more important to Madden’s online players than anyone else.  Sure, it might be nice to know these things for some sort of subjective discussion about which player is better or simply deserves a better ‘Overall’ rating.

For the rest of us the ratings that really matter are position specific as well as the ‘under the hood’ ratings like ‘Potential’, etc.  These ratings drive our Franchise Mode every season from deciding who to cut in week three of the pre-season to who will be placed further down the depth chart.  Madden isn’t friendly to developing players on the bench.  So, deciding which player you will use at QB is going to be crucial just as it will be important to look at other young players that might need to train up somehow – more on player editing to come.

Going into my first season of Franchise Mode I try my best to stay true to how my team is going through the pre-season, etc.  The problem with this mindset is the same I talk about every year.  This isn’t ‘real life’ this is your team and your Franchise Mode.  It is with that consideration that I am putting together the Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Selection Guide.

 With that said, here’s the Madden 17 Franchise Mode Team Selection Guide

Arizona Cardinals – A team that is in ‘win it all mode’ doesn’t need a lot of work to win you a Super Bowl in the first season of your franchise mode. They will need to start looking for a new franchise QB as well as a replacement for the aging Larry Fitzgerald as he and Carson Palmer both work into the twilight of their careers.  This is one of the better defenses in the league as well and hopefully EA will make sure to update the Mathieu contract in the first update if they haven’t already.

Atlanta Falcons – For being a team that has been a middle of the pack contender in recent years they have really struggled to make up for a couple seasons of terrible defense.  They don’t have a defensive identity and Matt Ryan is looking more like a mediocre Philip Rivers as every season goes by.  Thankfully, they do have Julio Jones at WR and two decent HBs in Freeman and Coleman.  Not to mention the off-season signing of Alex Mack at Center.  This is a solid option if you like to have a couple pieces in place before starting a Franchise.

Baltimore Ravens – Speaking of mediocre and overrated Quarterbacks – Joe Flacco is both of those things coupled with being over-paid for his talent level.  It seems that if any team is almost totally in rebuild mode with money sunk into aging and overrated players this is one of those teams. WR’s are all injury prone and your HB situation is suspect at best.  Add to this situation a defense that seems to be getting by on name recognition more than actual talent – the Ravens could be a nice sleeper team to have a bit of fun rebuilding both in talent and in budget.

Buffalo Bills – The Bills have a couple great playmakers in McCoy at HB and Watson at WR. Their QB, Tyrod Taylor is a poor man’s Mike Vick. Sure, he put up some decent numbers last year, but no one building a Franchise outside of Virginia Tech fanboys is going to want Taylor as their QB of the future.  Defensively the Bills are stout.  They could use some upgrades at virtually every position, but they also aren’t bad if you want to use the saying ‘bend, don’t break’.

Carolina Panthers – Back from a loss in the Super Bowl.  The Panthers are back and this time they will have their #1 WR in Kelvin Benjamin.  They could use an upgrade at HB and it wouldn’t be shocking in my view to see them take one in the first round of the 2017 Draft.  This team is a monster defensively, even without the loud mouth that was/is Josh Norman.  Keep this team healthy and you will be in the Super Bowl again in 2016.

Chicago Bears – A team with one of the most overrated and overhated players in the league in Jay Cutler has some serious question marks coming into 2016.  Alshon Jeffery is destined to become a free agent in 2017 and the rest of the team seems to be made up of place holders with unproven talent.  WR, Kevin White and HB, Jeremy Langford could be the answer the Bears need for losing two great (albeit aging) players at those positions over the last couple seasons.  On defense they have still been trying to find an identity after losing Urlacher to retirement.  This is one of my favorite teams to suggest to anyone looking for a rebuild in a tough division that actually has different weather during the season.

Cincinnati Bengals – They are still looking like the favorites to win the AFC North.  Andy Dalton is going to be your solid and tough QB that shouldn’t get you more than 30 TDs a year.  That said, you have AJ Green, but you have lost a couple WRs in the offseason.  Still, the offensive line is good and if he can stay healthy, Eifert will make opposing defensive unit cringe.  On defense you are going to be pretty much set.  There is no such thing as personal fouls or ejections in Madden for dirty players like Vontaze Burfict – so have fun with that.

Cleveland Browns – My beloved Browns.  What can I say?  They are the consistent choice among Madden Franchise Mode junkies that want to build a constant loser into a winner.  The Browns are intriguing in many ways though.  On offense you get a chance to redeem the career of Robert Griffin III. You also get a fresh batch of WRs and Josh Gordon should actually play this season (sit him the first four games if you want to – I plan on sitting him during my Franchise Mode for that time period). The running backs are really only two-deep as Crowell and Johnson are very much ‘thunder and lightning’.  It might be worth drafting a HB in the 2017 Draft with the Browns as well.  On defense they desperately need a new SS and FS as well as someone to compliment Joe Haden at the other CB spot since Justin Gilbert looks like he might have to play nickel – if that.  

Dallas Cowboys – Somehow, the Cowboys always manage to look like a team or at least sound like a team destined to rebound from yet another season of disappointment.  This season their defense already looks like a trailer park dumpster fire.  Now they are hoping that Romo doesn’t die on the field or the like.  Couple that with having the oft-injured Dez Bryant and you would think that this team is a terrible choice.  Well, maybe in real life.  In Madden 17 with the initial rosters, this could be one of the best teams to pick if you want to push for a Super Bowl.  You will want to upgrade the defensive secondary and draft a QB or two in the 2017 Draft, but otherwise, you have one heck of a roster.

Denver Broncos – From world champions and Hall of Fame QB to riding your defense to victory.  Most people will probably make the switch to Paxton Lynch as their starter in Franchise Mode.  If you consider the fact that the Broncos have lost no one but an ancient Peyton Manning they might be a lock for most people to win another Super Bowl easily in the first season of Franchise mode.  You will want to look into drafting a new HB in 2017 and probably load up that O Line as well.

Detroit Lions – The Browns of the NFC!  Detroit lost Calvin Johnson just like they lost Barry Sanders. Now they have… well… Matt Stafford?  If there were a team I’d give anyone props for taking in an online Franchise Mode with a bunch of friends it would be the Lions.  They are a mess from the top to the bottom.  You might consider setting your 2016 season goal to 7 wins if you play with decent difficulty sliders.  You need to build this team through the draft and you will need to make sure that it includes a backup QB, starting HB and a WR that will hopefully make everyone forget about Megatron.  Good luck with that.

Green Bay Packers – If this team stays healthy they are a lock for the playoffs.  You have the obvious in Aaron Rodgers and Co.  The only thing you might want to look into at this point is getting some younger WRs and consider the possibility of replacing Clay Matthews or at least backing him up as he ages.  A new Tight End in the draft would only help matters. 

Houston Texans – One of the teams that reminds me of Madden 06.  Why?  Because you have a huge arm at QB with Osweiler and two speedsters at WR with Hopkins and Fuller.  Not to mention the fact that you now have Lamar Miller and his speed at HB.  Yeah, the Texans look awesome on paper this year.  Couple that with the obvious presence of Watt (99 OVR) and Clowney and Co. on defense… this is a scary team to face.

Indianapolis Colts – They have invested in fixing the O-Line for Luck and even signed your QB for the next half decade or so.  You will want to replace the ancient Frank Gore at HB and probably get yourself a new tall WR to help Luck out a bit more on offense.  On defense you need to figure out in which order you want to replace everyone.  The Colts defense is strikingly bad and yet somehow they aren’t talked about for their terrible nature. 

Jacksonville Jaguars – If you want the young up and coming team this is it.  They have some great young players on both sides of the ball.  A franchise QB, a tough running HB in Yeldon, two great WRs and Julius Thomas at TE.  Then on defense they have two of the top rated players from the 2016 draft in Ramsey and Myles Jack.  This team scares the hell out of me on Madden and in real life – they might just surprise everyone this year – except Jaguars fans… and me. 

Kansas City Chiefs – They are in big salary trouble and that means you will need to figure out your plan of attack.  I suggest trading away your biggest salary hogs early on and hope you can get a couple draft picks in return.  You need to get a real answer to the aging Jamaal Charles at HB and desperately need to get more WRs on this team.  For being a passing league, the Chiefs make you think they will try to win with a 30 year old HB kept together with a bit of duct tape and glue.  Their defense is high end, but will you be able to afford to keep all of them? Doubtful.

Los Angeles Rams – I’ve been through St. Louis once and that is enough for me to understand why the Rams would move to Los Angeles.  Yes, I have love for the midwest as I am from Ohio, but wow… talk about getting a team full of weapons and having them in a new shiny stadium!?  This might be the most enjoyable team to build around new QB Jared Goff and what looks like the next great HB in Todd Gurley.  You have another 99 OVR player in Aaron Donald on defense as well.  All said and done, you will want to look into investing some draft picks in WRs if possible.  Granted, with the trade to get Goff you might have to search for the hidden late round gems for a couple years.

Miami Dolphins – It’s hard to decide how to build this team.  The offense needs new players virtually everywhere.  The defense has Suh at DT and a couple other pieces as well.  In all honesty, the Dolphins are a team with a new coveted head coach and I am willing to bet that whoever takes this team will do so with the singular goal of finding a new QB to build around first and foremost. 

Minnesota Vikings – They have a great coach (which never matters in Madden) and it looks like Teddy Bridgewater might be a solid game manager at QB.  With a couple great young WRs it seems to me that you really need to find Adrian Peterson’s replacement sooner rather than later.  Then add a couple pieces to the defense and you will be fighting the Packers for NFC North dominance in short order.

New England Patriots – The Patriots are the football version of the San Antonio Spurs.  They are designed to win around two people – Their Hall of Fame cheater of a QB in Tom Brady and their (doesn’t matter in Madden) Hall of Fame Coach that isn’t actually in the game anyway.  Brady is going to be done soon.  Most Patriots users are going to try and install Garopolo as the heir-apparent.  I must ask other than Gronkowski (who is at his peak and probably passing it quickly) who else on this team is really a piece you’d consider ‘the future’.  The Patriots are a great team and should get you to a Super Bowl in the first couple seasons of Franchise Mode.  However, you are going to need to invest in draft picks early on if you have any hope of maintaining their dynastic dominance.  Who are we kidding, most Patriots users will play on Rookie difficulty and run up the score on every team.  Just joking…

Not really.

New Orleans Saints – The Saints are in a similar boat as the Patriots, but they do have a decent power HB in Ingram with good young WRs and Fleener at TE.  They do need a lot of help on defense and this should be where you focus your growth as well.  Draft for defense and try to find a replacement for Brees and you will pose a real threat to the Panthers again soon.

New York Giants – The story of the day is aging QBs.  Manning is a good one to get you through a few more seasons, but you will want to have someone behind him.  Your HB is over 30 and there isn’t much help behind him.  Two great WRs (one is a rookie in Shepard… the other is the amazing OBJ).  Get yourself some more help on an improving defense and the Giants will be a favorite for the division nearly every year.

New York Jets – The Jets somehow don’t look as crappy as they always seem like that should.  You have Hackenberg waiting in the wings and two veteran WRs in Marshall and Decker.  You also have an older HB in Forte that will need to be replaced soon.  The defense has been the bread and butter of the Jets for years and this year is no different. You will want to find a new CB as Revis ages, but focus on your offensive aging and you should be up there with the Patriots.

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders really just need a defensive backfield.  Get your DB situation fixed and this team will pose a major threat to anyone. The offense is somehow looking like a dangerous deal with Derek Carr, Murray at HB and Cooper at WR.  The Raiders are going to be a fun team to use as they are young on both sides and Kalil Mack will be the only guy you want to control on defense.

Philadelphia Eagles – If any team gets to be laughed at it is the Eagles.  You basically lost your picks for Carson Wentz.  I imagine most Eaglers users will implement him immediately rather than sitting him like they hope to in real life.  Even with that they have an HB made out of glass in Ryan Mathews and one decent WR in Jordan Matthews. Zach Ertz at TE is nothing to get excited about. Then on defense you have a steaming pile of nothing impressive.  If ever a gamer wanted to start with a team that was shredded by a former coach it would be the Eagles.  Good luck and godspeed.

Pittsburgh Steelers – As I’ve stated before. Madden doesn’t have real life things like suspensions.  This means that Le’Veon Bell will never get suspended as he should.  The same goes for his fellow pot smoking teammate, Martavis Bryant at WR.  This basically leaves the door open for people to dominate with the Steelers and their great weapons on offense – including Antonio Brown and the newly signed TE, Ledarius Green.  On defense they are a team that is still rebuilding from their dominance with Polamalu, but that shouldn’t take long in the draft.  They will be up there with the Bengals for the AFC North as long as you have Roethlisberger and a decent backup/future starter at QB.

San Diego Chargers – The Chargers drafted Joey Bosa at DE and have the pieces they need to be a threat, but they aren’t that scary.  You will want to get another WR to take pressure off of Keenan Allen and certainly must replace Antonio Gates as soon as you can.  Rivers isn’t going to get any younger either, so you might want to focus on how to fix your aging offense before this middle of the pack team totally bonks out altogether.

San Francisco 49ers – It’s a damn good thing that your coach doesn’t matter in Madden.  Chip Kelly is in San Francisco now and it doesn’t look like they are going to do much to help him improve his name.  Carlos Hyde is a great HB to have as he is still young.  Kaepernick is a Madden friendly QB as he has mobility, etc. but really, you will want to find new players at almost every position.  You might as well start with a new coach as Kelly should never have been hired to coach anywhere anyway.

Seattle Seahawks – No more Marshawn Lynch. You do still have a dominant defense and Russell Wilson and the brittle Jimmy Graham at TE.  It would be a great idea to invest in new WRs and a couple new HBs to compete with Rawls for the starting spot.  Sherman won’t be great for much longer either, so look into a couple defenders as well.  Otherwise, the Seahawks are still a team built to win it all for the next couple years – even if only defensively. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A young team with a strong offense built around Winston.  You will want to find a couple new WRs and a TE soon.  Make sure to continue investing in your defense as you need to compete with the likes of the Panthers and Saints – that’s not fun if you can’t play defense. The Bucs are a team that should get you to the playoffs within the next two seasons

Tennessee Titans – Mariota looked good when he was healthy and in Madden he is a strong QB for a mobile/west coast system.  Invest in your O-Line to protect him and build up your lacking defense.  The Titans look like a fun team to build if you know what you’re wanting to make them into.  I suggest taking a look at what you want to do defensively and either start fresh with a new system or try and use the couple pieces they have.

Washington Redskins – It’s hard to look at Cousins as a long term answer… it’s more difficult yet to see him as a fun QB to build around.  He isn’t as exciting in Madden as he is in real life with his ‘did you like that?’ attitude.  They have a great TE in Reed, but their WRs are old minus the new rookie in Doctson.  It will be interesting to see how people build the Redskins as I think they could be one of the more interesting teams to grab ahold of and truly make into your own.

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