We’ve spent the last week diving deep into Madden 21 Analytics to rank every aspect of each franchise team. We used the EA Madden team’s ratings, which you can find here, to build all of our rankings. It’s time to reveal how each team stacked up. Today, we take on the AFC South.
Franchise Team Rank: 27th
The Good: The strength of this team is in their back end, specifically coverage as they hold the 7th ranked zone coverage and 12th ranked man coverage rankings. Along with the above-average coverage, the defense as a whole is better than average athletically speaking. Having Derek Henry is a big plus, but having the 12th ranked run-blocking offensive line will make his life a little bit easier as well.
The Bad: Ryan Tannehill checked in at 29th on my adjusted quarterback rankings. Add in the fact Tannehill has a long-term, and expensive, contract and that isn’t a great situation. Another bottom-ranked team is unsurprisingly another team in need of pass rush as the Titans were 26th in OPP. Add to the lack of pass rush the 23rd ranked run defense and that secondary is going to be asked to do a lot for this team. On offense, the team is bottom five in weapon athleticism, which doesn’t help out the below-average quarterback’s chance at success.
The Bottom Line: The Titans feel like they should be higher, but in reality, they just don’t have a lot of star power to work with. Derek Henry will be appealing as a piece but much of the rest of this roster feels underwhelming. On top of that, between an overpaid Ryan Tannehill and a highly paid but low-value player like Henry, the Titans’ already below average cap feels like it could get into trouble quickly.
For the time being, I’d hold serve on improving the offensive side of the ball. AJ Brown feels like he could eventually become a high-end receiver in the league and, while not highly rated, tight end Jonnu Smith offers the athletic upside most Madden players covet. Defensively, this team has to get some pass rush to be successful! I am less concerned about run defense as the options at middle linebacker still have a decent amount of upside with their age.
The Titans seem like a team that you won’t be upset with if you get stuck with them late in your franchise team draft, however, they won’t be a team that a non-fan is going to run out and chase. A move such as Jadeveon Clowney to Tennessee could potentially move this team into the low 20’s by the time your franchise starts, so keep that in mind as a wild card to this team.
Franchise Team Rank: 25th
The Good: This team is set at quarterback for the cycle with Deshaun Watson, my 3rd ranked adjust quarterback, manning the helm. Defensively, the Texans have J.J. Watt, who is still an elite player, along with the 5th rated run defense in the league. League average athleticism on the offense and defense, along with league average youth, make this team a viable option.
The Bad: With no 1st or 2nd round picks in 2021, the Texans are one of the worst-off teams in the league (30th) in draft capital. Usually, when a team lacks draft picks they have cap space to fall back on, however, that is not the case with the Texans who are now 29th in the league in cap space. On the field, bottom five rankings in zone coverage and run blocking are things to be concerned about.
The Bottom Line: This Texans team has a lot of short term upside to it but with some serious long term questions. The lack of cap and draft capital means owners looking to the future may be concerned about using this team. On the field this team’s weapons are lower-rated then many Madden users will value them due to their speed and athleticism, especially at the wide receiver position.
With no cap to take on contracts, and some questions on the money available to sign a guy like Watson in the future, a Texan’s owner may look to move a high-end player. The guy that pops out to me is J.J. Watt. An older player, but one that will be highly productive for a while, Watt could bring the Texans some serious cap relief along with some much-needed draft capital to replenish this team.
An owner that takes the Texans needs to understand they are taking on a difficult rebuild. They will find success early on, but they should immediately be planning for the future sustainability of the team before it ends up too late and they must scramble to field a serviceable roster.
Franchise Team Rank: 22nd
The Good: The Jaguars are essentially a blank canvas to build on. The top-ranked salary cap available, along with few bad contracts, and the 3rd ranked draft capital mean lots of opportunity to make this team your own. The offensive line is relatively young and above average in both run and pass blocking rankings. Being better than average in terms of players with abilities on the team gives the Jaguars a nice bonus in the talent department.
The Bad: With the 28th rated run defense, and bottom three rankings in man and zone coverage, this defense is not very good. Another bad quarterback situation, Gardner Minshew checked in at 27th on my adjusted quarterback rankings. While still some upside because of youth, the Jaguars 26th rated offensive weapons aren’t going to get a lot of people excited.
The Bottom Line: While most people talk about the Dolphins as the rebuild team, it is actually the Jaguars people should be looking to. They have similar draft capital, that could get better if Yannick Ngakoue is traded before the season, but with the added benefit of better cap space and far fewer bad contracts. This really is a blank canvas to work from with a couple of nice pieces you can keep or move on from.
I look at this team as a multi-year rebuild, which means I am probably not going to move any of my high draft capital unless I see a really nice piece someone may be getting rid of at lower than market value. I’d probably approach the Texans, Eagles, Saints, and Falcons about being a location to send cap for future stability and some sort of return, although not a high return.
If I am an owner that wants a true rebuild, this is my team. Pieces like Fournette and Allen offer some value but even those guys could be moved within a year if you wanted to do something completely different. In a division that doesn’t have a dominant team, the Jaguars could be that team in a few seasons in your franchise.
Franchise Team Rank: 10th
The Good: A young team at 6th in the YPI, the Colts have a solid long term outlook. The 2nd highest cap space will allow an owner to fill in gaps around the team as they need to in order to offset the youth. While not very highly rated as a unit, their offensive weapons are the 5th ranked in athleticism. One of the best offensive lines in the game, the Colts have both the 4th ranked passing and run blocking units.
The Bad: Phillip Rivers is not the answer in Indy as he checks in at 30th on the adjusted quarterback rankings. The defense is below average in coverage, and league average in run defense, but what makes the situation worse is their 28th rank in athleticism. 22nd in offensive weapon rankings, they aren’t an elite group but not the worst either.
The Bottom Line: The Colts are a solid young team that has a bright future. Some decisions need to be made on T.Y. Hilton and Ryan Kelly, but even if both are retained there is plenty of cap space to keep building the team with. The offensive weapons provide some upside in terms of athleticism that make you think they can eventually grow into an electric group.
As mentioned, Rivers isn’t the future here so the first order of business is to make a decision on the QB position. Jacob Eason is on the roster, however, I don’t see him as a long term answer. At only 26 years old Jameis Winston would be an intriguing target for me. The Saints will struggle to resign him until Drew Brees retires after the season meaning it’s likely they simply let him leave. I would send a mid-round pick early in the year and see what a year of development with Winston offers you in terms of long term stability.
A good plan for the quarterback position will make or break this decision for franchise owners. People who choose to play Rivers for a year, or even invest in Eason, could find themselves behind in building their teams up after a few seasons. The cap flexibility available to this team, along with what they already have, makes this team one of my favorites to build on this year.