Hello friends. Another year is in the books, and I think I speak for just about everybody when I say that it was a roller coaster of unprecedented levels. We faced the greatest existential threat imaginable, that being the league file itself collapsing, and still came out on the other side, relatively unscathed. We endured, and ended up powering through the most seasons we’ve gotten through in recent memory. There won’t be a time I don’t end this section without saying “thank you for playing”, but with all the disarray, I mean it a little bit extra this year.
Season 1 – Danny (Saints): Before Top Madden 2 existed, there was one man who stood alone atop the throne of the league, and that man was Drew Brees. Drew went scorched earth on the league in Season 1, breaking the single season passing touchdown record with 58 en route to a Super Bowl Victory over the Houston Texans, holding on despite their late fourth quarter surge. These Saints weren’t carried by Brees alone, as Michael Thomas, Jared Cook and Alvin Kamara all highlighted a versatile offensive attack. These were simpler times in the league, but Drew’s puzzling decision to come back for another season should have served as a harbinger for the turmoil that was about to come.
Season 2 – Warren (Chiefs): When you talk about league dominance for the foreseeable future, what Warren did with the Chiefs in this season is going to be what comes up. Dominance might not even do this season justice, considering how potent Warren can already be, coupled with the group of skill position players this Chiefs team had at its disposal. It’s a shame that this quest for perfection hit a roadblock in the file being corrupted, but ultimately the 19-0 dream was realized, if only a couple of months later than originally anticipated. This Super Bowl, on paper, had the makings of all time viewership, as a team pursuing a perfect season squared off against the defending champion Saints. A lack of interest in the defunct league, however, meant those viewers were non-existent. The game was fittingly strange, with the Chiefs jumping out to a 21-0 lead and the Saints storming back, only for the Chiefs to make a red zone stand at the end of the game and cement Top Madden history.
Season 3 – Dan (Browns): In football, there’s a lot of things that you can account for. Facing 3 all pro cornerbacks on one team might be on the shortlist of things you cannot. This Browns run was highlighted by a lot of moments and players, but perhaps the most memorable would be them stringing together two weeks of buzzer beating fourth down conversions on their way to the Super Bowl. It appears Dan decided there wouldn’t be any asshole clenching in the Super Bowl, as this game probably should have resulted in Nick Chubb owning a stake in the Carolina Panthers franchise after rumbling and stumbling his way to 200 yards, and leading the Browns to a decisive victory.
Season 4 – Warren (Giants): In a season littered with dominant player performances, no one was as dominant in season 4 as Saquon Barkley. Losing the chance to march on with the Chiefs meant Warren had to regroup with a Giants team that may have not been on his radar, but having a force like Barkley meant this was more of a retool than a rebuild. Barkley stampeded his way to an MVP award and led the Giants to the bowl, despite Ezekiel Elliott breaking the single season rushing record. Warren found himself staring down another defending champion, this time with an entirely different gameplan. Dan’s Browns rendered even the best of receivers useless, but that was irrelevant to the league MVP.
Season 5- Warren (Giants): Are you noticing a trend? In an attempt to not copy and paste Season 4’s section here, I’m going to highlight some differences in a year that culminated in a rematch of the previous Super Bowl. This game actually looked much different on the surface, as the Browns ditched Greedy Williams, a member of their comically good secondary, in a trade for Deandre Hopkins. Warren’s Giants had a few tricks up their sleeve too, as dynamic dev had resulted in a much more diverse and dangerous passing offense. What looked to be a different game actually ended up being even more of a slugfest than the prior season, with a game that was decided entirely on New York’s run defense being superior.
Season 6 – Warren (Giants): The final Super Bowl of the cycle was actually a showdown between two teams that call the same stadium home, these Giants and coach Ricky’s New York Jets. The Giants got out to a huge early lead that proved insurmountable for Ricky, but he deserves more credit than I even have space afforded to me to write for leading a team with Sammy Watkins and Chris Herndon as his top targets to the game at all, much less storming back to nearly win it all. This season marked the first three peat the league has seen since the Top merger, with Warren coming out of a conference that truly could not have been more competitive. 2 12-4 teams missed the playoffs in the NFC, and Warren shrugged that competition aside in a way that was consistent with his performance over the whole cycle.
We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program in a bit, but it’s impossible to tell the story of this league year without talking about the disaster scenario that unfolded after Season 1. During Season 2’s playoffs, the Top Madden file broke, preventing us from advancing into the Conference Championship round. This brought the league to a screeching halt in a way that, obviously, no one could have ever been prepared for. After waiting for server resets, hoping EA would uncharacteristically offer a resolution of any kind, and days of trying to sort things out, the CM group decided to restart the league, with a new team selection order and teams. In an effort to try and map out what could have been, let’s go over a few of the (drafted) guys who had their promising careers cut short.
QB Logan Regan, WR Clifton Boss (Chargers): After moving what probably amounts to the most draft capital ever given up in a single season, Ty found himself in a position to draft Phil Rivers’ heir apparent. What he wasn’t expecting was a 22 year old with Tom Brady level mobility, but it ended up being just fine. The cherry on top was drafting wide receiver Clifton Boss, a mid round pick who put his 4.3 speed to use and amassed 1,300 yards through the air as an unrefined rookie. The Chargers may not have had the best record in Top 1, but they were certainly competitive, and you can’t say there was a team responsible for more must-watch football this year than them at their peak.
RB Landon McClendon (Jaguars): This portion of our recap is about potential, and I’d argue that no player had more of that squandered in the Lost File than Landon McClendon. McClendon put up a pedestrian statline in his only season, rushing for 1,067 yards, but his physical gifts could have really set the league on fire following the departure of the Jaguars coaching staff this same season. When you’re talking about a guy with 89 speed, 83 truck, 84 elusiveness and obvious superstar traits out of the gate… you’d be hard pressed to find a player who was more tailor made for the style of this cycle’s play.
LB Jeremy Stanley (Ravens): Leave it to Jordan to find the most unassuming off ball linebacker you could possibly imagine in the draft, and then immediately turn him into a key piece on the defensive side of the ball. There wasn’t a single thing that jumped off the page when you looked at his ratings, but he made plays most superstar linebackers could not. His 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 6 interceptions don’t even tell the whole story, as his 6’4” frame made opposing quarterbacks second and triple guess themselves before throwing over the middle on any play.
RB Austin Amos (Chiefs): What Amos might have lacked in raw counting numbers, he more than made up for with his impact on the field. As Warren’s Chiefs weren’t deadly enough offensively, this absolute menace catching passes from out of the backfield meant their offense truly boiled down to “pick your poison”. KC’s opponents were faced with an impossible maze of questions: Do you key in on one of the two 99 speed receivers, the superstar tight end, escape artist quarterback or this jack of all trades? His 700+ yards both through the air and on the ground coupled with his 15 total touchdowns were what took this team from great to unprecedented.
Warren 86-10 (90)
Danny 75-21 (78)
Ricky 48-16 (75)
Fin 71-25 (74)
Khalil 34-15 (69)
Jordan 66-30 (69)
Seran 54-26 (68)
Donny 64-32 (67)
Boom 21-10-1 (66)
Dan 52-28 (65)
Willie 59-37 (61)
Allen 48-32 (60)
Steel 22-15 (59)
Arlen 55-39-2 (57)
Pest 54-42 (56)
Troy 51-43-1 (54)
Jose 32-32 (50)
Mamba 16-16 (50)
Hellcat 31-33 (48)
Flex 43-52-1 (45)
Davey 42-53-1 (44)
Grid 33-46-1 (41)
Shrimp 34-62 (35)
Matty 13-29 (31)
Woat 26-70 (27)
Tony 21-75 (22)
written by Fin
QB1: Deshaun Watson (Texans): Watson was a key part of the success of both Top Houston teams. With a stacked receiving group and escape artist, Watson was a legit trigger warning to a good chunk of the league. His best performance and season was in Top 1, when he led the Texans to the Superbowl on a great run which included a 7 touchdown playoff performance against the Jets in the divisional round. In Top 2, Watson was used slightly differently but recreated a lot of the Top 1 success for new user Khalil. While there were some pure standout QB seasons in Top this cycle, no one was as consistently great as Watson, leading his teams throughout the cycle winning many awards and playoff appearances.
Stats – N/A, complicated by file crash
QB2: Josh Rosen (Buccaneers): Rosen was really a meme choice by Ty entering Top 2, but when Danny utilized the post file crash team switch, that meme became a dream, and that dream became a superstar. Rosen dominated the final three seasons, winning multiple awards and leading the league in virtually every passing category. Accompanied by an insane supporting offensive cast, the only thing that kept Rosen from a ring was the injury bug to the offense. His best season was when he notched 42 passing touchdowns and eclipsed a 70% completion percentage. Danny was no stranger to QB success considering his historic season with Drew Brees in Season 1, so it wasn’t a surprise to see Rosen end up with an X Factor trait by the end of the cycle.
Stats – 1,085/1,604 67.6%, 16,269 passing yards, 134 passing touchdowns, 102.1 passer rating
RB1: Saquon Barkley (Giants): Saquon follows up his RB1 cycle last year with another RB1 cycle. No player won more championships and more MVP’s than one Mr. Barkley. It was established early that running back abilities were game changing, but it was Saquon and the evasive trait that prevailed as the top back this cycle. It was never a matter of if Saquon was going to bust a big play, it was just when Warren decided he was tired of toying with his opponent. The best man on the best team, Saquon not only deserves his spot as RB1, but he is the All Top Madden team captain
Stats – 5,733 rushing yards, 77! Rushing Touchdowns, 2 seasons over 7 YPC
RB2: Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys): What Troy was able to do on the ground this cycle was just absurd. His 1k duo in New york was impressive, so when he picked the Cowboys in Top 2 we should’ve seen this coming. Zeke defined the running game this cycle with not one but TWO 2 thousand yard seasons. Playing Troy with this team was a top cause of headache this cycle, and he basically ended Hellcat’s year with a walk off 80+ yard touchdown as time expired. While the Cowboys didn’t have much success in the win column, they stuck to their true philosophy and Zeke will join Barkley as the Madden 20 Hall of Fame RB’s.
Stats – 7,589 rushing yards, 6.6 YPC, 63 Touchdowns.
WR1: Deandre Hopkins (Texans): While Top 1 will largely be forgotten, there were few players that stood out as OP in that brief era as much as Hop. At one point in time this Texans team was dropping 40 points a week with Hopkins contributing multiple scores with little effort. The stack corner routes from hell almost won this team a Super Bowl and Hop was a menace to any opposing DB.
WR2: Curtis Samuel (Panthers): When he wasn’t suspended, Samuel was as dangerous a receiver you will ever see in a madden league. The speed demon with a knack for contested catches was a huge piece of Willie’s Season 3 playoff run and NFC title.
WR3: DK Metcalf (Seahawks): Under the persistent development process of Seattle, DK earned the right to be called the most OP receiver in Top 2. His physicals were game breaking, his abilities were game changing, and DK just straight up didn’t care that he was covered. Metcalf was a part of Pest’s lethal ability offense that really forced you to play a mentally sound game, as they were always one play action pass from scoring regardless of where they were on the field.
TE1: David Njoku (Browns): Njoku was DK Metcalf playing out of position. One of the true madden outliers, Njoku was a centerpiece of an offense full of centerpieces. Big frame athlete who caught damn near everything, opposing defenses struggled against the Browns as coverage was always stretched thin and safeties were left alone on Njoku for huge yards and catches.
TE2: OJ Howard (Bucs): A unique athlete with the most OP zone ability that was never used. Howard, similar to Njoku, was the third key piece on a unique offense with the post specialist ability, he was a downfield threat you couldn’t possibly ignore. One of the best athletes at the position ever, OJ will forever be remembered for his M20 dominance.
written by Danny
IDL1: Aaron Donald (Rams): What is there to say about Aaron Donald that hasn’t already been said? The very definition of a one man wrecking crew, you can easily pencil AD in this spot every single year until it doesn’t happen, although a little credit is due to Flex for not squandering his talent.
Stats – 85 sacks, 1 interception
IDL2: Geno Atkins (Bengals): The amount of QB pressures Atkins generated over the first few seasons of both Top 1 and Top 2 can not be ignored. In the brief period of time that Max was running the show here, the Bengals strictly rushed three, and could afford to sacrifice those extra rushers solely off of the pressure that Geno created from the interior regardless of double teams, extra protection or whatever you tried to throw at him.
Stats – N/A
Edge 1: Danielle Hunter (Vikings): An athletic freak in every sense of the expression, Danielle Hunter will likely find himself on this list for years to come. There’s simply no answer to an edge rusher that athletic equipped with the best abilities in the game, and Jordan devised his entire defensive gamelan with the confidence that Hunter would get after opposing Quarterbacks on every play.
Stats – 132 sacks including 46 in a single season, 8 forced fumbles
Edge 2: Cam Jordan (Saints): Cam was inexplicably good both pre and post reboot, but his spot here at number two edge rusher is entirely off of the strength of his Season 1 campaign. He was an anchor for the eventual Super Bowl champion Saints, recording 41.5 sacks in a single season.
Stats – N/A
LB1: Blake Cashman (Vikings): We covered what Jordan did with a nondescript drafted linebacker in Top 1, so it should come as no surprise to see Blake Cashman at number 1 on the linebacker list. There was nothing Cashman couldn’t do, from stomping out the run game to being a ball hawk anywhere on the field. Coaching deserves a lot of praise here, because even with as gifted as Cashman is. I don’t think many could have utilized him this well.
Stats – 57 sacks, 15 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles
LB2: Luke Kuechly (Panthers): Former league MVP Luke Kuechly got the send off that he deserved this cycle. Buoyed by the single most powerful ability in the game, Luke was a menace whether Willie was controlling him, or just letting him do his thing and knock the ball loose.
Stats – 216 tackles, 20 Forced Fumbles, 14 interceptions
CB1: Parry Nickerson (Jets): Another player who had a promising year cut short by the reboot, Parry lived in the head of any AFC East offensive player. Troy put his incredible speed to good use, recording double digit interceptions with a guy who was a bubble roster player in the real NFL. One can only imagine how good his year would have been following guaranteed dynamic development boosts.
Stats – N/A
CB2: Michael Westbrooks (Redskins): The final “Redskins” player to ever be enshrined in Top Madden was a physical freak. After being the fourth pick in the first Top 2 draft, Westbrooks certainly lived up to that selection. With 98 speed, 95 acceleration and man coverage in the 90’s, it would be hard to craft a better madden corner in a lab.
Safety 1: Ellis Reese (Cardinals): Fin has spoken enough about Ellis Reese to everyone in the league for a lifetime, but it goes without saying that this is probably a cycle-long performance that won’t be replicated for a long time to come. Reese’s physical talents jump off the page, with him standing at 6’4” and sporting 93 speed at the free safety position, but the story of Ellis Reese goes way beyond that. Reese was as much of a threat to score on a given play as any player on the offensive side of the ball, recording 15 touchdowns in only 3 seasons of play. It goes without saying that all 31 other coaches in the league are thankful that this dude only played in those 3 seasons. To put things into perspective, Reese had as many interceptions in his rookie season as the second safety on this list had for the entire cycle.
Stats – 55 interceptions, 15 defensive touchdowns, infinity mentions in chat
Safety 2: Rudy Ford (Eagles): If not for Ellis Reese’s dominance, Rudy Ford would have ran away with the top spot on this list. What he lacked in raw interception totals, Rudy more than made up for with his prowess in run support. Donny mastered the art of living in opposing backfields, and Rudy was often the weapon of his choosing both in Top 1 and Top 2.