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How to Build a Successful Madden Franchise

By Sports Writer, Inc. Be Successful with a Madden Franchise Starting out - Fantasy Draft or not? You have two options in starting a franchise : A fantasy draft (all players go into a pool for drafting) or all the traditional NFL rosters. Most Gamers like to suit up with their favorite team so I will concentrate more on the fantasy draft side. One important note about the draft process (besides that it is a serpentine form - if you pick 1st in the 1st round you pick last in the 2nd, etc.) is that you must draft according to the minimum requirements by position before getting all the extra players to bolster your roster. In general I have found after the first few rounds of Best Player Available drafting (whether you value a stud QB or bookend Tackles for protection or a great secondary) it is far better to look for youth in the draft. A young talent like Jonathan Vilma or Chris Gamble is a better long term selection than Jeremiah Trotter or Sam Madison even though the latter choices are higher in ratings. Another factor is the salary cap. The young players have very nice contracts that allow you flexibility for future free agents and draft choices. If you draft someone you know is going to be a stalwart in your lineup for years, unless they have a contract for 4 or 5 years already, sign them to a 7-year deal before they are highly rated and cost you a bundle for a long-term commitment. A major factor in the drafting process is your personal playing style. If you are an offensive mind in Madden it is sound to spend your picks on skill position talent, a great O-line, filling the defensive holes later in the draft with up-and-comers. If you are a defensive guy, a killer pass rush and great cover corners are probably higher on the list. Another factor in assembling your roster is your skill at the various training camp drills for your players' improvement prior to the season(s). For example, the kicking drills are fairly easy to navigate so, especially if you are on offensive guy, you should get a punter at the very end of the draft because you can easily improve him every year with the training camp drills. A kicker might be a more worthwhile investment as your drives that stall will be in the long field goal range instead of on your side of the field. Obviously a defensive-minded coach will spend more on a punter to win the field position game. Player acquisition in general needs to take into account what attributes can be improved through training camp and the player's performance during the season. Here is a quick breakdown: Quarterback- They can improve their Awareness and Accuracy through playing performance. Training camp has the Pocket presence (Accuracy and Awareness) and Precision Passing (Throwing power and Accuracy) drills for them to improve. Running back- Playing performance can upgrade the players' Awareness, Breaking Tackle, and Blocking ability. They can participate in the Rushing Attack drill during camp to improve their Tackle breaking ability, Awareness, or Agility. The Catching drill can improve their Acceleration, Catching, or Jumping. Tight End- The season can improve their Awareness, Catching, and Blocking skills while they can participate in the same Off-season drills as a Running Back to improve. Wide Receivers- Same breakdown as Tight Ends. Offensive linemen- Awareness and Blocking skills during the season. The DL Trench fight can improve their Strength or Acceleration in Training camp. Defensive linemen- Awareness and Tackling during the season. The DL Trench fight for

Strength or Acceleration and the Tackling drill for Agility, Awareness, or Tackling are Training Camp options. Linebackers- Awareness and Tacking during the season. Training camp includes the DL Trench Fight and the Tackling drill - same as D-Linemen. Corners/Safeties- Awareness, Catching and Tackling during the season. Training camp allows them to participate in the Tackling drill for Agility, Awareness or Tackling, and the DB Swat Ball drill for Catching, Acceleration, and Jumping. The Kickers and Punters have there own drills for Kicking Power and Accuracy through the Coffin corner (Punters) and Clutch Kicking (Kickers) drills. Occasionally they can gain or lose an Accuracy point on their attributes during the season. As you can see it isn't the best use of Training camp to improve a player's awareness as the opportunities to improve during the regular season are plentiful. My personal recommendation for the use of Training camp is as follows, and this is from going through many, many franchises: Never improve Offensive Linemen through Training camp. Do your best to draft or acquire ones with high strength (95+) and Acceleration (75+) rating and if they play well during the season their Awareness and Blocking skills will rise. It is difficult for them to score high in the Trench fight drill anyway as their speed to get through the drill leaves much to be desired. Use your best QB for the Precision Passing drill. The exercise is very difficult with a QB that has an Accuracy rating of below 85. Ideally, you want a player with 90+ in both Power and Accuracy to give you the best chance to perform well in that drill. Use the Pocket Presence drill to beef up your younger (or just less accurate) QBs before improving their Power in the Precision drill. DL Trench Fight: Use it to improve your DE's or LB's Acceleration or Strength. For a DE to succeed consistently he needs at least 80 Speed and 80 Acceleration for this event. An LB needs a Strength rating above 75 or else the OL in the drill will consistently push him to the ground. With fast LBs your best strategy is to try and run around as many of the blockers as possible. Chase and Tackle: Use this to Improve an LB, CB, or Safety's Agility. In the later rounds of this drill try taking on the blocker with the first defender, then switch to the second man and make a clean tackle. The fullback generally blocks pretty well on inside running plays so take him out and win the one-on-one battle with your Safety. On outside toss plays you should have no problem taking a good angle and stopping the play for a loss with the front defender. DB Swat drill: Use any secondary player to improve their Catching or Acceleration ratings. Their should be 65+ Catching and 90+ Acceleration to participate as Interceptions are key to a high score in the later rounds. Try to get as many DBs on your roster above 75 Catching rating - I have not seen a noticeable difference in their Interception ability/statistics if their ratings are 80 or 95 in Catching. Coffin Corner: Kick to the short side of the field with a high trajectory for maximum accuracy. Wait for a minute or so before beginning if the wind is strong as it typically will die down to under 5mph. Clutch Kicking: Adjust the direction more the shorter the distance. On Madden level it doesn't take much adjustment to get it down the middle. Don't forget the wind! A 12mph wind will hook it from the post almost into the middle of the net depending on the

kicker's power. If you have a power rating of 85 or below you might want to stop on AllPro level as it takes very good timing with the stick to score well on All-Madden level. Precision Passing: With your starter (or a great backup) you can easily improve 3 or 4 points in this drill. The All-Pro and All-Madden levels should be approached with caution, better to work on them in exhibition mode first. Generally improve their throwing power first as they cannot up their ratings during the season. One tip: Roll out to the corresponding side of the field for more success on the long throws. You wouldn't need to during a game, but it helps to get the throw through the rings in this drill. Pass Catching: Generally don't use your RBs in this drill unless you really use them heavily in the pass game. An RB with a 65 Catch rating is plenty to have as a safety valve in the flat for most offensive gameplans. Plus you need at 75+ to have good success in this drill. Ideally you'd like to have a WR with 90+ speed, 90+ Acceleration and 75+ Catching for this drill. As the levels progress the more suspect your player's catching ability, the more drops that creep in at the worst possible times regardless of your positioning to make the catch. Ground Attack: Use your RB or a WR you're looking to improve their agility. BTK rating for a Wide Receiver does not add much value (rating or playing-wise), but it is a worthwhile improvement to your RB, especially if he is over 220 lbs. Use the sidelines to your advantage in this drill to stop the clock and get extra carries. In the first couple levels be very patient as your FB will take out one, two, or even all three of the defenders for you. The stiff arm is very effective in this drill, especially to get a couple extra yards when you are near the sidelines. The defense gets fierce with an all-out blitz inside the 5 yard line, so you should go out of bounds closer to the 10, unless you think you can make it in. I've seen 4 or 5 consecutive failed attempts to score inside the 5 yard line in this drill. That much time will kill your score. In the All-Madden level the safety will take away the outside run many times, so the best strategy is to spin or cut back to the inside for a modest 7-12 yard gain, trying to get out of bounds on the next play. Other things to consider when selecting players for the drills: Use players that are in your long-term plans as a franchise. Boosting their ratings will also boost the salary they command if they finish their contract or hit the free agent market. Don't ignore your backup RB or a 3rd or 4th CB as injuries can commonly make these players instant starters. When a kicker has a couple years left on his (hopefully long-term) deal and he is 99 Overall or something like that: Pickup a young, cheap kid, sign him to a long term deal and start grooming him through 2 Training Camps as a replacement. You can also sub him in on some short, easy FGs during the season and he might get a couple accuracy points as well. You'll save some money for other positions when the stud kicker's contract expires. Course if the Kicker has 99 Power and Accuracy already he won't improve his rating through training camp anyway. Trades before week 6 To be realistic in your Madden franchise trades are only allowed prior to week 6 beginning on the schedule. So following week 5 (the first wave of progression increases for your squad) is a chance to look at your roster and see if there's anyone expendable either a backup that won't get a chance to play but is above 80 Overall and might start on another team, or a starter hasn't performed and you have a rookie or young player behind him that you are itching to play more regularly. Another way to sift through your roster is to sort by years left on their contract. All the players with 1 year remaining will be at a

crossroads at season's end, either resign them or let them go through free agency. If you're going to resign them it really doesn't matter if you do it now or after the season, but if you plan to but let them walk out the door and they aren't a big part of what you do, then it's far better to trade them at this juncture and get something for them, as opposed to nothing down the road. So who do you trade them to? I use two pieces of information: #1 - what teams are in need at that position? It's a great sign when a team's players at that position are all ranked lower than your player. They will usually value him higher than another team stocked with All-Pros. One thing to note is if you are looking at LOLB for instance, the other team maybe starting their backup MLB there because he is better than the LOLBs to choose from, so check all the possible positions that could be starting there. The other factor to consider is the other team's current record. If you can trade your excess to a team that's 1-4 at the time, odds are they will have a worse record at the end of the year than a team starting out 3-2. That's assuming you are trading for a draft pick, or even to move up a round. If you finish the year in the playoffs and they finish 5-11, that backup LB and your 5th round pick (say pick 20) could trade to another team for their 4th round (pick 5). Essentially you traded up a round and a half instead of one, or the reverse where they finish with a better record than you and the difference is a mere 15 picks. Play the Season The rest of the season plays out as you normally would: trying to avoid the yearly injury bug, getting playing time for your younger players if you are blowing someone out, resting your starters more at the end of the year if you clinched up your seeding, etc. After the Season After adjusting anything for your stadium and prices, it's time to address your coaching staff. Other teams may make offers on your coaches, but you can do the same to theirs. If you are a defensive mind, your head coach should be the same - his motivation will help mold your defense. Unless you heavily rely on the run or the pass only, look for an offensive coordinator who is well balanced in his ratings. Also it is to your advantage to lock up a coach for 3 years instead of the customary 2, he may stay for the 3rd year cheaper than a new contract if another team doesn't woo him away. Restricted Free Agents The players that were originally signed from the draft to 3 year contracts will be a restricted free agent. You have first rights to sign them to 1 of 4 different salary levels. For another players to sign them away from you, they will typically have to give you draft pick compensation, but before that you will have the option to match the offered contract. If you give them the lowest 1 year deal, another team can merely sign them without give up a draft pick, and the highest compensation will yield 1st and 3rd round draft picks. If you don't have a desire to keep them, offer a lower tender in hopes that another team will sign them and give up a mid-level pick, rarely will a team sign away a player for a 1st and a 3rd round pick. Resigning Players Before the draft you can decide who to resign from those expired contracts you checked over at week 5. You should already have an idea of who you want to keep and who you will let go. The holes from these players you will need to replace from either free agency or the draft. Also, players will occasionally holdout for more money. Generally they don't ask for a lot more than you were paying them, but if it rubs you the wrong way, you can

ship them out via trade or let me sit out the season - but that's wasted cap space. Early Free Agency This is when the cream of the crop will be signed - before the draft. If you have a glaring hole you need to fill, or don't think you'll find that solid starter in the draft, this is your chance to get that high-priced player. The competition will be between all the clubs with plenty of cap space, so bring your checkbook. The players sometimes go with the highest bid, others want to play for a winner so you could give him the farm and he will go elsewhere. Draft Preparation You can get inside information for your prospects by putting them through drills and the All-Star game, as well as the combine outcome. Another way, which is a little shady I will admit is to save your franchise before the draft - you should save the file often anyway. Then simulate through to the free agency period. After that you can sort through the rosters by age according to position and get an idea of their attributes and when they were drafted. Some players fall into the second round, others are projected in the 3rd round and go with pick 1-32, it all depends. After you check everyone out, take some notes, reset your system (don't back out as that will save your progress), then you should be at the draft level again and you can go through with your selections. One additional note - unless you change the Coach Options for Drafting and Signing players to Auto, the draft picks for your teams may end up as free agents. This is a cheat in a way, so use it or not it up to you. Signing Drafted Players Obviously the higher the pick, the higher the salary they command out of college. But a #1 QB will command more than if you select a SS #1. If you selected a player who will be a stalwart in your organization, especially if they are a lower round pick - sign them for the long haul - 5 or more years, so when you develop them into a stud, you aren't paying though the nose for them. Every once in a while they will holdout for more money, but most will be happy from all the guaranteed money you gave them straight out of college. Final Free Agency This is a chance to fill those final pieces that you didn't get to in the draft. The competition isn't as fierce as before as this lot of players has already been picked over once or twice. Depth Chart and Positional Adjustments Set up your new roster with your projected depth roster, course things change through the new training camp and preseason results. Try to go with their suggestions most of the time as players can get a little edgy if they earned a starting spot and you insist they ride the bench. New Season! Another chance at greatness! More Notes If you are looking for a DE, try converting a LB into that position. Ones that work well are ones with 80+ speed, 75+ Strength, and 85+ Acceleration. It's a plus if they can't catch well (45 or below) because they wouldn't help you much in pass coverage at LB anyway. A 75 rating LB can instantly become a 90+ DE, their Awareness takes a shot, but that doesn't reflect in their play that much. Linebackers that fit this mold are easier to

come by than traditional DE's. Course this position move doesn't make sense in a 3-4 scheme, you want big 280lb. DE's anyway. Another thing to consider with this is changing the LB's weight over time to bulk him up for the DL position. So LB's are 225lbs., so I will increase their weight by 10-12 lbs. per season until they get up to 250 or 260, showing their weight room work in the offseason. Another position trick is to move a CB to FS. They will probably have more speed, agility, and catching ability than your average FS. If you find a CB with 65+ Tackling this will be a worthwhile move. During play, try to get matchup advantages when the defense comes out in a 4-3 or Nickel package. If you have a dominant TE, try to isolate him on a CB in Nickel, or motion him out as a WR against a LB to utilize his speed. Another matchup advantage is with your RB. A great way is to have a package with two RBs in the backfield at the same time. I'll use San Diego as an example, with Michael Turner and LT back there you can play games with motioning one of the them out, see who will cover them (if it's a LB you have to like your chances in the passing game), then you can still come back and run the football against probably 6 men in the box (another good situation). Another strategy is to utilize 4-WR sets on early downs. The computer will likely play 43 or nickel, leaving a LB on a WR in the slot. You can run crossing routes to use their speed advantage, or a simple go route, and get them on the Safety because the LB probably won't keep up with them 40 yards down the field.. With 4 wides on first down you can also run the ball effectively. If they spread the defense to defend the pass, you will likely have the 4 linemen and MLB in the box (5 on 5 blocking), or in the case of a 3-4 defense, 4 in the box (3 DL and MLB). Both ways you should be able to pick up 5+ yards on a simple slam running play just by using the playmaker stick to the weak side and being patient with your blocks. Most of the time it will be a one-on-one match-up between your RB and the Safety. One aspect of Madden '07 that is vastly improved over '06 are the counter running plays. I have found they work far more consistently than a traditional toss or sweep play call. In previous years if you switched the direction of the play, the men that were in motion reverted to their original position (very unrealistic). This year everyone stays put, so you have this scenario where you can manipulate the defense around with motion of your TE's and FB to get the numbers in your favor on one side of the field. Course the defense is usually playing the "strong" side, while your original play call was a counter-play to the weak side. Just like many other running plays, patience is required to let the blocking take place and make the correct decision to take it outside or cut it up inside the aforementioned blocks. A few more tips: When a special player comes along (in real life think Randy Moss, Dante Culpepper, or Jevon Kearse when they went into the draft), do whatever it takes to get them. Some Examples.... -A wide receiver that is 6'4 or taller, 230lbs. 95+ Speed with 90+ Agility and Acceleration. I know, it sounds a lot like Calvin Johnson, but the point is they are a physical specimen with all the tools to dominate. In Madden every few years there's a huge receiver, I'd seen guys 6'6, 245lbs. Especially if you already have a couple good WRs, that rookie will be in the slot against a guy 5'9" 180lbs. That's match-up is so far in your favor it is not even funny.

-A Linebacker that's 6'2" 260lbs. with 87 Speed, 85 Strength, 92 Acceleration and 75 Catching. This guy, regardless of his Tackling or Awareness, will dominate. -Any Corners that are 6'1" or taller, 210lbs.+, with 95+ in Speed, Agility, and Acceleration and 70+ Catching. Dominate. If you see these guys on another roster, they are worth trading the player on your team at that position and a draft pick or two. 2008 Associated Content, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Use