If you still haven’t picked out your franchise team for Madden 21 don’t fret, as we have compiled the top 10 franchise mode teams for Madden 21 for you. The data was derived from breakdowns of each piece of the team, which can be found here, and then compiled to deliver who the best teams for franchise mode are.
10. Indianapolis Colts
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.
9. New England Patriots
Franchise Team Rank: 9th
The Good: The Patriots have the best secondary in Madden and it’s simply not a debate as they rank 1st in both man and zone coverage. No slouch in the run game either, the Patriots are the 10th rated run defense. On the offensive side of the ball, the team is built stoutly in the trenches with the 6th rated pass blocking, and 2nd rated run blocking, offensive line. A team historically tight against the cap now has some relief holding the 4th most cap of any team in Madden.
The Bad: New England is the 30th ranked team in YPI, and frankly it’s at a lot of the positions they are so good at. Another team in this division that lacks pass rush, the Patriots rate 27th in ORR. Below average in athleticism on both sides of the ball, and lacking elite skill weapons (28th ranked), the Patriots may struggle to put up points this year. After 20 years of Tom Brady, the Patriots are in a bit of a transition with Cam Newton playing QB. At 26th in the adjusted QB rankings, it doesn’t seem that Newton is the long term answer for the Pats.
The Bottom Line: The signing of Newton at least gave the Patriots the ability to win early in most franchises. Another team who I’d look to acquire some sort of pass rusher, the Patriots owner could consider moving on from a guy like JC Jackson or Jonathan Jones, both of which should have considerable value. As for the offense, this is yet another team that needs help at tight end. Again, a call to the Bucs and Rams may be in order to give the offense some sort of reliable weapon.
Long term outlook for this team is murky at best. While they have the cap to infuse life into it through free agency, it still feels like there will be a time in the near future this team could be dragged down by a massive regression cycle. If you are an owner who looks to win early while the “meta” is still being figured out, the Patriots would be the perfect team for you.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Good: The offensive weapons on this team are spectacular out of the gate. Three players with abilities on offense, where they rank 4th by the way, make this offense the 3rd rated weapons unit in the game. On the defensive side, the Bucs have the 1st ranked run defense along with the 10th rated pass-rushing unit. Even with all this talent, the Buccaneers are 10th in salary cap available.
The Bad: This could be good or bad depending on your view, however, Tom Brady at his advanced age is ranked 25th in adjusted QB rating. Defensively the Buccaneers have issues in the secondary with 28th ranked man coverage and 30th ranked zone coverage units. For as much passing as this team plans to do the 21st rated pass blocking ranking is a slight concern.
The Bottom Line: The Buccaneers will be one of the first teams off the board because they have star power all over. The offense will only get a year out of Brady and Gronkowski most likely, however, a replacement at tight end already exists in O.J. Howard. On the defensive side of the ball quality players at linebacker and defensive line make this team really appealing.
You have a couple of options you can go with here. If you are in the “win now” mentality then I am looking to trade O.J. Howard for help in the secondary. Cameron Brate is a capable back up to Gronk and you can look for your future TE down the line. If you aren’t ready to sell Howard to win now then potentially you trade Gronkowski to another team in desperate need for a TE for a lesser quality secondary player.
The Bucs are one of the teams being most talked about around the franchise community. With all of that star power, especially on offense, people will have fun playing with them. While Brady only lasting a year likely will be a negative to some, I personally view it as a positive as I am one who likes to develop a QB throughout a franchise.
7. Buffalo Bills
The Good: At the 8th spot in the YPI, the Bills should be set up for long term success. A secondary that is top 5 in the league in both man and zone coverage is a valuable asset for any owner. The 7th rated run defense makes this Bills defense one of the better ones to start off the cycle. Not necessarily the highest rated group of weapons on offense, the Bills do come in at 7th in offensive athleticism.
The Bad: For as good as the defense is on paper, their 22nd ranking in athleticism will scare some people. The common theme of pass-rushing issues continues with the Bills landing at 24 in ORR. While the cap isn’t in horrible shape, owners should be cognoscente that they are in the bottom half of the league.
The Bottom Line: I am a big fan of the Bills as a franchise sleeper this year. While Josh Allen isn’t the most desirable option at QB he does offer some upside running that makes up for his lack of accuracy. The acquisition of Steffon Diggs gives Allen a true #1 wide receiver that owners should enjoy using throughout the cycle.
I’m not sure the Bills have a ton of firepower to go out and acquire the pass-rushing piece they still need. I’d keep my eyes out for a potential older cap casualty, however, I wouldn’t start breaking up my defense or offensive weapons in the process to do it. If you can move draft picks for a pass rusher I’d consider it, however, this team is built for the long hauls so I’d be leery of mortgaging my future unless the deal was right.
As I said, this is one of my favorite teams that people aren’t talking much about. The Bills can be developed and have some places to put your own stamp on them. A division that has question marks means a good owner should be able to compete out the gate with the roster advantages alone.
6. New Orleans Saints
The Good: The Saints are an explosive group on offense ranking 1st in offensive weapon rankings, and that unit is supported by one of the top offensive lines in the league. The offensive line is 3rd ranked pass-blocking and 7th ranked run-blocking. On the other side of the ball, the 7th ranked pass-rushing unit gives the defense a spark. All of this is multiplied by the fact that the Saints are the 7th youngest team per the YPI.
The Bad: The Saints’ biggest issue is their 31st ranked cap situation, which is understandable with this much talent. While the offense is one of the best in terms of skill, in terms of athleticism they check-in at 20th. Drew Brees’s career is about over and with that in mind, he finds himself at 20th in the adjust QB ratings.
The Bottom Line: The Saints are a juggernaut of a team and one of the best in the game. The offense will be electric while the defense has stars dotted throughout to help keep games from becoming a shootout. The concern around cap becomes less of a concern after recently learning that Drew Brees will retire after year 1 in most franchises.
While Brees will retire after the season, that means re-signing guys during the year will still be an issue. With that in mind, the Saints hold one of the more interesting assets in the game year 1 in Jameis Winston. With a few teams in need of a QB, Winston becomes a really intriguing asset. And with no immediate needs other than cap space moving Winston for a package of picks makes a lot of sense for the Saints.
The Saints are a personal favorite of mine. Similar to the Bucs they will need a QB after year 1 which will give owners a chance to develop a QB throughout the cycle. Beyond QB however, this team does not need a lot of maneuvring which means they give owners a lot of freedom to take the team whichever direction they like.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
The Good: There is almost too much to name here, but we will try. The Eagles dominance starts with the #1 rated pass and run blocking offensive line. Speaking of the trenches, on the defensive side of the ball the Eagles lead the league in pass rush with the #1 ranked ORR. Throw on top of all of this a top 10 adjusted QB, weapons, and secondary coverage units and this team is going to be tough.
The Bad: As good as this team is they have some minor issues…and then one massive one. Let’s start with the minor issues, the run defense ranking 27th in the league is not a great position to be in. In terms of team youth, the Eagles check-in at 20th in the YPI. As for the big issue, the Eagles cap is flat out bad.
The Bottom Line: As good of a team as the Eagles are on paper the conversation starts and stops in terms of franchise with their cap. After some maneuvering by EA, the team can be managed but will require cutting a lot of the guys on the roster to do so.
How do you dig out of this hole? As I said above it’s tough. How bad does the roster need to be gutted? If you cut, or trade, DeSean Jackson, Mallik Jackson, Jefferey, Graham, and Johnson you’d be positive with some room to breath. The issue with that is you still then have to field a team, which means finding their replacements.
I have hammered on this all offseason, but the Eagles cap will once again be a nightmare to manage. EA’s approach to their cap makes ti manegable, however, it’ll still be a task that most people aren’t up to take on. The Eagles are a “buyer beware” team to me because of these issues.
4. Los Angeles Chargers
The Good: The Chargers have the 2nd best coverage secondary in the league ranking 2nd in both man and zone coverage. One of the better pass-rushing units in football, the Chargers are the 7th ranked team in ORR. Complimenting the pass rush well is the 4th ranked defense athletically in the league. With the 3rd most cap space, the Chargers should be able to fill any holes that emerge.
The Bad:On offense, the Chargers are not very explosive as they land at 29th in offensive athleticism. The run defense could use some improvement as they are the 22nd ranked in the run defense metric. The team as a whole is trending to the older side, at 22nd in youth power index the Chargers will need to add some youth over time.
The Bottom Line:There is a lot to like about this team but I think they may not be for everyone. The offensive weapons lack the athleticism many owners covet in their teams, while the defense is aging a bit in the cornerback room. The other big question is what to do at QB with Justin Herbert being a middle-tier option long term at first glance.
This team is flush at corner, and with such need for the position, should be able to use one of the corners to improve elsewhere. The question is “which corner to trade?”, and the answer is “whichever one gets the most in return”. On the other side, I am probably looking for some sort of athleticism at wide receiver. In a division with three really athletic offenses, the Chargers will need to get better there to compete.
If it was me personally I would take the Chargers early and often in any franchise I was in. I get why some people may be less than excited about the offensive outlook, however, I think the defense has staying power and the offense can be easily fixed. Owners should keep in mind that as good as the chargers are, because of the talented teams in the division signing up for the Chargers is signing up for a battle in most leagues.
3. Dallas Cowboys
The Good:Tied for the most abilities of any team at launch, the Cowboys will be lighting up the field, literally. 4th in YPI means that the long term stability of this franchise is really strong. Always a strong point for Dallas, the offensive line is once again a top 5 unit in both pass and run blocking. Dak Prescott finds himself at #5 on the adjusted QB rankings solidifying the Cowboys’ future at QB, maybe.
The Bad:Not a lot of hate about this team, hence why they are top 3 overall. The biggest concern would be in the secondary. With man and zone coverage ratings in the bottom 10 in the league, the Cowboys secondary appears to be the glaring issues on this team. Depending on what an owner chooses to do with Dak Prescott’s contract the Cowboys’ 17th ranked cap space could quickly become a bottom 5 cap situation.
The Bottom Line:Every year the Cowboys seem to be one of the top teams out of the box and this year is no exception. Elite talent exists at most positions outside of the secondary. With a strong upside in terms of youth, the Cowboys are in a great position to succeed. The only real question for any owner is “what do you do with Dak?”.
I’ll take a crack at solving the Dak Prescott conundrum. I personally would move Dak year one in my league. Why? Because even a tag would move the Cowboys into potentially negative cap territory. Instead, I’d move Dak for a younger development option and an elite secondary piece to round out this team. This would set the team up better long term financially than paying out a high-end QB contract.
Unlike the Eagles, the Cowboys elite status isn’t asterisked with a franchise breaking issue. Potential owners will have to decide on Dak and how to proceed, but beyond that, this team is set up to win day 1. If an owner prefers developing QB’s over having established ones this team becomes one of the most enticing teams in the game.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Good:Lamar Jackson is the 2nd rated quarterback in my adjust QB ratings. A top 10 line in both pass and run blocking provides Jackson with a lot of room to operate. Defensively, the secondary is a top 10 unit in man and zone coverage. The team as a whole is 3rd in YPI and is 7th in cap space to boot.
The Bad:There really isn’t a whole lot to put here. The 25th rated run defense would be the biggest issue for this team. The weapons have some potential but as they stand right now they are the 20th rated group in the league.
The Bottom Line: The Ravens are the 2nd rated team in my rankings for a reason, they are flat out dominant. Lamar Jackson gives you an electric playmaking QB for the entire cycle. The defense has really good players at each level, along with some young up and comers. Offensively, guys like Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown are future stars in the making.
In terms of team management, there isn’t a whole lot to do here. This team isn’t flush with a lot of assets to trade away, but again there isn’t much of a need here either. If there was one place I’d consider looking around at it would be for a #2 wide receiver potentially. Miles Boykin has some upside but it never hurts to see what else is available out there.
The Ravens will be one of the first teams to go in your team draft. It’s not just that they are rated highly across the board, it’s that they have pieces that are fun to play with which will be even more enticing to potential owners. The Ravens join the Browns as one of those teams ready-made to go wire to wire in terms of being a top-quality team.
1. San Francisco 49ers
The Good: I can’t just say “everything”, but it kind of feels that way for San Francisco. 2nd rated in the Youth Power Index, one of the most impressive things about this team is the long term outlook. On the field, the 49ers are top 10 in offensive and defensive athleticism, adjusted QB rating, weapons, run blocking, ORR, and zone coverage.
The Bad: Honestly? nothing. They do some things only slightly better than average such as 13th rated run defense, but that’s about as bad as things get for this team. 19th in cap space could become an issue down the road, but as of now, they are in fine shape in the near term.
The Bottom Line:The San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the game. With no real weaknesses and good to great almost everywhere they should dominate leagues with a solid user. Jimmy Garapolo is serviceable for now, but if there was one place I’d want to improve long term it would be at QB. On the defensive side, Richard Sherman is still excellent but only has one or two years left at a high level.
The place the 49ers could potentially use some help would be at #1 wide receiver. With quality backs like Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, the 49ers could potentially move one for an older but still quality wide receiver. Probably not a buyer for the half-backs I previously mentioned, however, the Bengals and more specifically AJ Green could be a target in some sort of offensive lineman and picks package.
I am going to guess the 49ers go #1 or #2 in nearly every franchise. Built to last for the whole cycle and dominant across the board make them an easy choice. Owners who want more of a team-building challenge may pass on them but in reality, even I as someone who likes to build teams would have to consider them given the opportunity.
Here is the full analytical breakdown of each team:
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