This is part an article on the best way to draft a team in Madden.
I spent a large part of my life playing Madden in my teen and early 20s and often spent all of my free time playing.
Sure, I graduated college in the meantime, but I didn't have much of a life after that.
A lot of my time playing Madden, and before Madden was Front Page Sports Football, was doing fantasy drafts.
Draft after draft after draft.
Now that I accept my addiction as a truth in my life, I limit my Madden experience to looking online once a year at all the player ratings, grabbing a paper and pen and creating my own draft just based on information. I won't keep any video games in my house any longer.
This isn't a draft for fantasy football leagues, though; this is a draft to put the best football team on the field for years to come in Madden 2012. It's not about stats; it's about balance.
There are several steps to the process.
NFL Scouting Combine
Before there was the Internet where you can look online and see the draft order, I would simulate my own draft to see where all the players will land.
Nowadays, you can find it here: http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps3/625123-madden-nfl-12/faqs/62895
Remember, this is a computer game, and eventually, the computer is going to cheat, so you might as well get a leg up on them now.
Secondly, if you're not cheating, you're not trying.
Thirdly, using information available to you isn't cheating; it's smart.
This is about getting the best team possible on a video game, and nothing you do in this game will define you as a human being or set your karma or make Jesus mad at you.
Do the smart thing and study the list.
Also, study up on the NFL draft for the past three years so you know the names of highly touted young players and find out where they're being drafted in the Madden 12 franchise fantasy draft.
While most players who draft go right out and select a quarterback straight away in the first round, I never would.
Because the quarterback drills in spring training are what I am good at. Not only that, I always felt that for me, it was always easier to put up big offensive numbers in preseason at the skill positions (QB, RB, WR), which develops their player ratings faster.
What was hard for me to build? Offensive linemen were hard for me to build up their skills, so I focus on drafting highly rated ones.
Defensive players are different because you have less control over how the other teams will play and who will put up big stats. I pick my defense by value.
Patrick Willis is my Favorite Player
This is a game and it's supposed to be fun. You need to put that before all else and get the players you like the most at every stage of this game.
Your favorite player is probably like mine and going in the first round. This player will help you set your strategy for the rest of the draft. Not only positionally on the field, but it will determine where you select in the draft.
Patrick Willis is my favorite player, and he is picked in the first round No. 5 overall. So we can mark that down on our paper. Since we're picking No. 5 in the first round and all odd numbered rounds after that, it means we have the 28th pick in all the even rounds.
Note to Madden: Let players be the first pick in every round if they want. You're a video game; don't take yourself so seriously. It doesn't have to be so fair a draconian.
Remember, we do this all on paper first so we can revise and prepare for the actual draft. When we have our plan for our 53-man roster, we move on and actually turn on the game.
Targeting your favorite players now with pen and paper in their appropriate rounds will allow you draft better players in earlier rounds because you know your man will drop.
Here are some of my committed picks for my favorite players.
1. Patrick Willis MLB 98A
12. Patrick Peterson (R) 82A
13. Eric Berry SS 88A
That's it. The days of Rice, Montana, Jones, etc.. are gone. If they weren't gone, then there would be no need to draft.
Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane in Moneyball. Different sport, same concept.
Let's start with quarterbacks: Look at your sheet from Gamefaqs and look at where all the quarterbacks are going.
See how Michael Vick is the last quarterback taken in the second round and is rated at 93? When is the next quarterback taken? Matt Ryan in the ninth round, who is rated only three points lower at 90.
That's seven rounds you gain of picking other positions other than quarterback and building a balanced roster. All you're giving up are three player points, which can be made up in training camp.
When's the next quarterback after that? Round 15! Joe Flacco is sitting right there at pick No. 5, which is your pick. So the distance between Flacco and Vick is 13 rounds and five player points.
So you want to get at the head of this curve and pick a quarterback in round 15 in this case because by the end of the 16th round, the best quarterback around will be rated 77B and is named Alex Smith.
I went with Josh Freeman in the 15th round because I like his mobility and can work on his accuracy in training camp.
Now you do the same thing with your backup quarterback. Just look down the list. When is the next big crop of quarterbacks taken?
It looks like rounds 25 and 27. I'll go with Tebow with the fifth pick on the 25th round to be my backup.
That takes care of that position. By drafting for value, we have two franshise quarterbacks with a 15th and a 25th round pick. That protects us against injury and builds for the future.
Now do the same thing with all the other positions.
Rookie Mark Ingram
I am very good at bringing up running backs and developing them...so long as I have a dominant offensive line.
Because of this, and by searching for value on the draft boards, I am able to select two of my favorite young running backs and develop them into star players in two or three years.
Because of my place in each round, and the fact that I am picking these two players as a tandem, I am going to have to take them off the board a round or two early, which is OK, because I am gaining tremendous value and drafting for potential.
With the 49ers' 26th and 27th round picks, I am picking Mark Ingram and Jahvid Best. This will give me two solid running backs whom I can develop.
If you look closely at the ratings provided on the sheet, the author identifies each player rating with an A or a B denoting potential.
This means I'll focus on building Ingram as a No. 1 featured back due to the A potential rating while building Best into a change of pace back and special teamer/returner.
My emphasis in the running game is always on the offensive line anyway and blocking, so let's talk fullback.
For those of you who like a wide open offense, fullback possibly won't be as important to you. I like a Tom Rathman style fullback, though, who can block like crazy and catch the ball as well as run it in short yardage situations.
So I'll target Lawrence Vickers in the 11th round with a rating of 90A.
Punter Andy Lee
The first positions I fill out on my sheet are kickers and punters. I want the best players I can get at every position, and there's no reason not to have the best kicker and the best punter, or at least one of the top three at each position.
Get a competitive advantage in all aspects in the game and begin with the end in mind. A lot of games begin and end with a place kicker.
So as we fill in our sheet, you can see that we're looking to fill in our later picks first with the highest possible value.
This way, since we see how our roster is shaping out in the later rounds, we can use the first 10 rounds to pick up players at the least glamorous positions, which are also the hardest for me to develop...most of which are on the offensive line.
If you look at the value of the offensive line positions, you see they drop off rather quickly.
Since we know our skill positions are being filled far off in the draft, we can stay ahead of the curve on the offensive line and not leave our prized players with inadequate running lanes or time in the pocket.
While quarterbacks drop off starting in round 15, the drop off for tackles starts dramatically in round five.
Get ahead of that curve.
Guards are pretty much the same, and you'll need four picks in rounds three through seven to be dedicated to filling out a superior offensive line.
At Center, I targeted Maurkice Pouncey for his youth, potential and 88 rating. He goes in the 14th round, but we'll pick him up off the board a little ahead of that due to our draft position.
So now by working backwards, we've filled a lot of the skill positions to develop behind a superior offensive line, and we still have our second rounder (DE), in this case our fourth rounder (WR) and rounds eight through 11 to get players all rated 90 or higher, filling in a No. 1 cornerback to play next to our rookie phenom Patrick Peterson as he develops, our fullback and a tight end plus one more.
When it comes down to it, you won't have a team of all 90 rated players. So when you are filling out your starting lineup, look to add lower rated future stars to your team.
There are some absolute steals in the later rounds in my opinion.
You can get a DT tandem of Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy in the 12th and 24th rounds, respectively. They went two and three overall in the 2010 draft.
Do some research on the NFL draft over the last two or three seasons, and you'll be able to fill in your roster players itching to break out.
Remember, there aren't enough spring training drills to train a whole team of rookies and prospects.
In terms of drafting for value, however, you'll get more bang for your draft day buck by targeting young players for drafting in the later rounds and using the earlier rounds to draft established veteran talent.
PS. For 49ers fans who want Aldon Smith, he goes in the 21st round.
Now that all your research and planning is done, you're ready to hit the draft and watch all your players fall into your lap.
Draft like this, and you'll have the best team every time. You won't have the highest rated team, because remember, at key positions, you've selected young players with low awareness.
In the case of a young QB, though, you're that player's awareness bacause you're throwing the ball.
In the case of a running back, you're controlling where they run. So don't worry about the rating of the team, just know that your team is the best on the field bar none.
All your hard work will pay off, and even with a Super Bowl ring after your first year, you'll continue to get better and better as your young team develops into a dynasty.
I've resisted showing you the team I drafted because I want to see yours, and only if you used this method.
In the comments below, tell me if these mothods worked for you and some of the teams you've drafted as well as your successes as you advance through the years with your new Madden 12 Dynasty!