It is imperative that a sports game gets its ratings right. Everyone remembers the weird outliers that end up breaking the game in unrealistic ways or when unexpected players enter the elite level of 90+ OVR. For years Madden has been a black sheep of sports games, handing out maximum 99 OVR ratings to multiple players on launch where games like FIFA cap their superstars well below the ultimate peak.
Madden 20 has promised to end that by having a total overhaul of player ratings. With in that is the claim that the tangible gap between a 91 OVR and 90 OVR player will be much bigger while the spread of ratings will be more, resulting in some starting players getting as low as 60 OVR ratings, making the game much more realistic.
This is a big claim from EA Sports, but if they carry it out there could be a lot of surprises when the ratings are announced in July. Until then we are left to speculate just how the ratings may affect everyones favorite players. In this article we will look at how the half back position may break down on Madden 20.
90+ OVR Running Backs
Likely running backs: Todd Gurley (LAR), Ezekiel Elliott (DAL), Saquon Barkley (NYG), Christian McCaffrey (CAR), Alvin Kamara (NO)
The superstar running back has always been important in Madden, and perhaps it has never been more important since the number of wheel routes, screens, and creative dump-offs has only increased within Madden playbooks. The top back in Madden 20 is likely to be tied between the Rams Todd Gurley and Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott has led the NFL in rushing yards per game in all three of his NFL seasons and has already hit 4,000 yards in his career. In 2018 he expanded his impact in the passing game too, bringing in 77 receptions with 567 yards. The other side of that coin is that Todd Gurley has led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in the last 2 years with a total of 30. He's also been a far more consistent part of the Rams passing attack, averaging 9.8 yards per catch last year.
Second-year player Saquon Barkley, who took home Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, is another player that could be competing for the top spot after leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,028 yards.
The dual threat nature of Barkley's draft mates Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara should also see them given a very strong rating in Madden 20. McCaffrey had a stunning 107 catches while Kamara scored 18 touchdowns in the regular season.
Ezekiel Elliott: 94 OVR
Todd Gurley: 93 OVR
Saquon Barkley: 92 OVR
Alvin Kamara: 91 OVR
Christian McCaffrey: 91 OVR
89-85 OVR Running Backs
Likely running backs: David Johnson (ARI), Le'Veon Bell (NYJ), Devonta Freeman (ATL), Melvin Gordon (LAC), Kareem Hunt (CLE), LeSean McCoy (BUF)
Behind that group of elite backs there is likely to be a busy second tier of RB's that can still turn a game and drive defenses crazy.
David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell were the top rated running backs of Madden 19 on launch, but that is very unlikely to hold up in Madden 20. Johnson struggled in 2018, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and catching only 50 balls as the Cardinals struggled. Meanwhile, Bell sat out the whole year before moving to the New York Jets as a free agent. As a result both will fall out of the 90+ range and into this bracket.
Also falling out of the 90+ bracket from this time last year is likely to be Devonta Freeman, Melvin Gordon, and LeSean McCoy. If a shake-up of the ratings is to mean anything then the gap between elite players and the second tier needs to be increased. That means that despite quality performances Freeman and Gordon need to drop into this tier, while the veteran LeSean McCoy should also drop.
Kareem Hunt is a difficult player to judge. He was deadly for the Chiefs in 2018, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 14. yards per reception while scoring 14 times in 11 games before he was cut and placed on the Commissioner Exempt list. He's now in Cleveland and could be a brilliant player once again, but putting him in the 90+ OVR bracket seems overly positive for a player with a big cloud hanging over him.
David Johnson: 89 OVR
Le'Veon Bell: 88 OVR
Devonta Freeman: 87 OVR
Melvin Gordon: 87 OVR
LeSean McCoy: 86 OVR
Kareem Hunt: 85 OVR
84-79 OVR Running Backs
Likely running backs: Leonard Fournette (JAX), Derrick Henry (TEN), Dalvin Cook (MIN), Jerick McKinnon (SF), Chris Carson (SEA), Joe Mixon (CIN), Phillip Lindsay (DEN), James Conner (PIT)
This third tier of running backs could be 25-deep given the amount of quality running backs that are around the NFL at the moment, but with Madden 20 touting such a big change in ratings style I expect some very disappointed players when the game is released.
The powerful runners of Chris Carson and Joe Mixon are likely to top this tier after finishing in the top 5 for rushing yards in 2018. They will be closely followed by Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry, and Dalvin Cook who are all talented players with something to prove in 2019. They don't have the raw athletic ability to break into the top tier, but come Madden 21 they could all be in the second tier of backs with a good season.
Jerick McKinnon will be a very hard player to rate for Madden 20 after missing all of the 2018 season with a torn ACL. He got a launch rating of 85 in Madden 19, so shaving a few points off that seems fair.
Two other names likely to be in this range are Phillip Lindsay and James Conner. Lindsay was an undrafted free agent in 2018 but put up 1,037 yards on the ground and added 241 through the air. Conner was the beneficiary of Bell's absence and put up 973 yards and 4.5 yards per carry along with 497 yards as a receiver. Both should settle into this range on launch.
Other players that may enter this range are Adrian Peterson, Nick Chubb, Lamar Miller, Sony Michel, and Marlon Mack, but a highly populated third tier rather undoes the idea of a big ratings spread.
Chris Carson: 84 OVR
Joe Mixon: 84 OVR
Leonard Fournette: 83 OVR
Derrick Henry: 83 OVR
Dalvin Cook: 83 OVR
Jerick McKinnon: 82 OVR
Phillip Lindsay: 81 OVR
James Conner: 80 OVR
Do you agree with our predictions? How do you think the ratings overhaul will impact the running backs? Let us know in the comments below!