EA Sports announced their top-10 quarterback for Madden 21 on Monday, with Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes leading the way, entrenching himself in the much-desired 99-club.
An announcement on running backs rankings are likely to follow suit on Tuesday. Thankfully for us, we won’t have to wait until then, as the leaks have begun to pile in. Madden School on Twitter released the ratings for the top-10 ranked running backs in the game, a list that likely has more than a few New York Giants fans rolling their eyes.
*UPDATE: It appears Madden has realized their blasphemy regarding Barkley’s rating, altering his overall less than 24-hours after the original leak.
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Is the NFL Souring on Saquon?
The perception of Barkley this offseason has been met with quite the varying levels of affection. Pro Football Focus omitted the star running back altogether from their list earlier this summer of top-50 NFL players heading into the 2020 regular season. However, just last week, in an ESPN polling of more than 50 NFL executives, scouts, coaches and players, Barkley reigned supreme, ranking as their choice for the best running back in the NFL.
In terms of the Madden ratings, the top-four players, Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb and Ezekiel Elliott all deserve to be rated as they are, within the upper-echelon of NFL running backs. However, from there, things begin to get extremely murky.
Comparing Barkley to Cook, Jones & Mixon
Yes, injuries limited Barkley to just 13 games in 2019. With that said, the all-world running back still managed to top the 1,000-yard barrier for the second time over his two-year pro career. The former Rookie of the Year flashed his generational talent towards the latter part of the season upon regaining full health, producing a mind-boggling 279-yards from scrimmage performance in Week 16, further etching his name in Big Blue’s all-time record books.
Dalvin Cook enjoyed a breakout 2019 campaign with the Minnesota Vikings. He came out the gates extremely hot, averaging a combined 6.03 yards per carry over six of his first eight games on the year. However, while Barkley’s play elevated over the final stretch of the season, Cook’s took a sizeable dip. The first-time Pro Bowler saw his yards per carry cut nearly in half, averaging just 3.18 yards per tout over his final six games. All-in-all, Barkley and Cook have played in the same amount of games during their pro career (29). Barkley outpaces Cook in essentially every major statistical category, rushing and receiving.
Joe Mixon is an uber-talented playmaker, but chances are if you owned him in fantasy a season ago, you know how gut-wrenching his production was on a week-in, week-out basis. Mixon appeared in all 16 games for Cincinnati in 2019, but averaged just 3.88 yards per carry or fewer in half of those games. Mixon has also never registered double-digit touchdowns in a single season over his three-year career.
Finding the endzone is no issue for our next topic of discussion, 2019 NFL touchdown leader Aaron Jones. Between him, Cook and Mixon, Jones likely has the best case to rank above Barkley on this list from a pure production standpoint. He’s averaged an impressive 5.0 yards per carry over his three years in the league. He’s also seen his receiving numbers go up in each season over that span.
However, there were plenty of times a season ago when Green Bay, for whatever reason, chose to move away from Jones in the ground game. Which explains why, despite his monster season, Jones averaged fewer rushing yards per game then Cook, Mixon and Barkley. The addition of rookie AJ Dillion in the Packers’ backfield should only further eat into those numbers.
All the running backs we’ve discussed are more than deserving of being ranked within the top-10 at their position. However, only one is a generational talent, and for that reason, the idea of Barkley not even cracking a 90-overall rating is quite ludicrous.
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