This series of posts form a detailed guide to my Madden 17 CFM Scouting Tool, which can be downloaded from this location:
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Data Input
- Part 3: Scouting Tips
- Part 4: Blue Chip Criteria
- Part 5: Red Chip Criteria
- Part 6: Off-Season Planning
- Part 7: Draft Day
The tool will ask you to plug in some info about players you are scouting, including their position, name, projected round, scouted skills and NFL combine stats, and determine where on the board their true value lies. To come up with this true value rating, I’ve built an algorithm that takes into account a number of checks, balances and modifiers to rank the prospects against each other. There is still an element of chance involved, but I’ve found that there is a pretty good correlation between a player’s ranking according to the algorithm and their ranking according to their actual OVR rating in game. This isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s a great way of ensuring you always take the best player available at a given pick, just like the top GMs do in real life.
The tool will also give you a draft status, which tells you whether or not to draft a given prospect. This function uses a number of checks to determine the risk factor of picking a player. It will give you an element of certainty about which players are studs and which players are scrubs. The draft status indicator also stops you from spending scouting points needlessly on players that are almost certain to be busts based on their first or second scouted skill (or combine stats). Like the true value indicator, there is still an element of chance involved. Occasionally, the tool will tell you to draft a player who turns out to be a 72 OVR, and other times it will tell you not to draft a player who turns out to be a 78 OVR. The certainty of the draft status indicator varies by position (some positions are easier to assess than others), but generally, this will massively improve your ability to draft top rated prospects and allow your scouts to assess the maximum number of players before the draft.
Finally, and new for version 4, the tool will give you a prediction of a player’s likely development trait based on whether or not they have draft stories associated with them.
How to use the tool
The tool has an enormous number of cells that are either locked or hidden. This is to stop people from playing around with the formulae or accidentally deleting something they shouldn’t, which could stop the tool working properly. If you’re that way inclined and fascinated by hideously complex excel spread sheets, you can download the unprotected version and have a poke around. But if not, there is actually only a pretty small amount of info you need to worry about filling in.
Basic Info Columns
Column A: Position
Use this column to capture a player’s position. You will need to select the value from the dropdown menu provided, which uses the standard abbreviations (e.g. QB, ROLB, SS, etc.).
Column B: Name
Pretty self-explanatory I would hope: the prospect’s name. Important so you can help decide whether or not to pick him during the draft based on what the tool tells you to do after you plug in more info about him.
Column C: Proj’d Rnd
The round the player is projected to be picked in. Within each round, there are players projected to be picked either early in the round, in the middle of the round, or late in the round (plus players who will likely go undrafted). The tool uses this info to affect the true rating of a player (statistically, a player who is likely to be picked early in the first round is much more likely to be a stud than a player projected to go undrafted). Additionally, populating this info helps you to prepare for draft day and decide whether or not to trade back, or reach for a player you like who might not be available later according to his projected round.
Again, this column enforces some validation in the form of [round number][first letter of position in round] (e.g., 2E, 5M, 7L, or UD for undrafted players). You can view a player’s position in a round in Madden by selecting them.
Column D: Talent Rnd
Once you have scouted a player’s top 3 skills, Madden gives you a “talent grade” to go along with a player’s projected round. The talent grade is a better indicator of the actual worth of a player, so the tool will use this data if it is available to help calculate the true rating.
However, my advice on talent grade is not to read too much into it. The only certainty is that players whose talent grades are undrafted are almost always scrubs. The rest of the time, a player might still be good even if he is projected to go in the 1st but his talent indicates he should go in the 6th. I reckon Madden uses this to simulate players rising or slipping unexpectedly on draft day, and little more than that.
Again, column validation is used. Same format as the Projected Round column (1E, 2L, 3M, UD etc.).
Column E: Age
Age may seem like a slightly irrelevant stat to capture in the tool, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to actually developing a player post-draft. The XP cost of upgrading stats increases drastically at age 26 (having risen slightly each year up to that point), meaning once your player hits 26 years of age, they’re pretty much at their peak potential. So a 24 year old only has 2 or so seasons before they’re at their peak, while a 21 year old has 5. That’s a BIG difference in terms of how much XP a player is likely to earn, assuming they’re getting at least some game time.
Personally, I put a huge premium on drafting 21 and 22 year old players, and consider this more beneficial than Quick/Superstar development and worth several points to their OVR. I’ve built in a small modifier to the true value rating based on age, but you can tweak it if you like on the Score Calculator tab (column CN). When I’m using this tool in my personal CFM, I tweak these modifiers so 21 and 22 year olds have a massive boost in the true OVR, and 24 year olds have a large penalty.
Column F: Hght
The height of the player in feet and inches (sorry European users). This column was a new addition for v3 as height drastically affects the in-game ability of players at certain positions (most notably WR), and as such should be taken into consideration when deciding who to draft. A 6’6 Megatron-style behemoth is going to be a better pick than a 5’8 manlet, regardless of the fact that the giant receiver might run a slightly slower 40.
The column data is validated via a dropdown list of acceptable height values.
Column G: Draft Story (If Applicable)
This is the big area of change for version 4 of the tool. Previously, this was quite a binary value (either positive or negative) but now it has plenty of granularity based on my research into dev traits and how to use draft stories to predict them. The field is now a dropdown that will allow you to select a precise story (or group of similar stories that have the same affect) and will now affect TVR and the new dev trait prediction columns.
If the player has no draft story associated with him, leave this field blank.
Scouted Skill Columns
Column H: Scouted Skill 1
Okay, now we’re getting into the bit of the tool where the magic starts to happen. Scouted Skill 1 is the attribute you unlock for a prospect by spending a whopping 15 scouting points, and represents their best attribute. This column is where you capture the attribute that has been unlocked. The column has some validation on it, to ensure a consistent name is given to each skill. In retrospect I should have used the abbreviations, but I didn’t, so you’ll have to populate “Zone Coverage”, “Block Shedding” etc. instead of ZCV or BSH. Sorry. I’ll endeavour to change that for a future version of the tool. It can be a pain in the neck for the first few players at a position, but after a while Excel will start giving you the type ahead functionality to speed things up and it becomes less onerous.
Column I: Grade (for Scouted Skill 1)
This is the column where the grade unlocked against the first scouted skill can be populated. This column forces you to select the grade from a dropdown. I haven’t included F in here, because that can equate to a very broad range of actual attribute values and the only time I’ve ever seen one is against the third attribute of a Kicker or Punter (positions you shouldn’t be wasting picks on anyway). So if you get a player with an F, just put a D.
Column J: Scouted Skill 2
Same deal as Scouted Skill 1 (column G), except this is the skill you unlock second, by spending 10 points.
Column K: Grade (for Scouted Skill 2)
See the info for column H.
Column L: Scouted Skill 3
See the info for column G. This is the third and final skill you can unlock against a player for a mere 5 points. It will also reveal the talent grade for the player, according to Madden.
Column M: Grade (for Scouted Skill 3)
See the info for column H.
Combine Stat Columns
Column N: 40 Time
Okay, so now we’re into the NFL combine stats. These get revealed during the Off Season, after the first week of Free Agency. This is the time it took the player to run the 40 yard dash at the combine, to the nearest hundredth of a second (two decimal places). 40 times correlate strongly to a player’s sprint speed attribute.
Column O: Vertical
The number of inches the player managed to jump in the air with their vertical leap at the combine. Enter a number to one decimal place. Vertical leap inches correspond to a player’s jumping stat.
Column P: 3 Cone
The time it took the player to complete the 3 cone drill at the combine. Enter a number to two decimal places. 3 cone times correlate to a player’s agility stat.
Column Q: Shuttle
The time it took the player to complete the 20 yard shuttle drill at the combine. Enter a number to two decimal places. Shuttle times correspond to a player’s acceleration stat.
Column R: Bench Reps
The Bench Reps field is the number of bench press repetitions the player managed at 225 lbs and is a good indicator of strength.
N.B. I don’t provide a column to capture the broad jump because it doesn’t have a clear correlation with a particular attribute that I can find. Therefore it’s slightly pointless extra info that doesn’t help determine whether or not to draft a player, or to determine their true value.
Column S: Draft Status
You don’t need to enter anything in here, it’s a calculated column.
This column will display a few different statuses depending on how much data you have input and the quality of the prospect you have scouted:
Scout Further: Potential Blue Chip
This status will display if the stats and skill grades you have input so far for the player indicate he could be a 75+ OVR player, but the tool still needs a bit more info to know for sure. You should add these players to your watch list and continue unlocking scouting attributes for them (and/or ensure you enter their combine stats after W2 of Free Agency in the offseason).
Scout Further: Potential Red Chip
This status will display if the data you’ve input for the player means he won’t be a 75+ OVR prospect, but he could still be a 70-74 OVR player. However, the tool still needs you to unlock/input some more info to know for sure. You should add these players to your watch list, but I would advise not opening more skills for them until later in the year when you know you’ve found every possible blue chipper. You can always go back and spend more scouting points on these guys at positions of need where you require more depth for your roster.
Do not draft
This is what will display if the prospect is likely to be a scrub (<70 OVR) based on the data you’ve input. Once this status is set, the tool will use conditional formatting to grey out the row. Do not waste further scouting points unlocking skills for these players once they turn grey, and make sure you take them off your watch list in Madden so you don’t accidentally draft them.
This is a special status that displays if the player is fully scouted, but the tool cannot determine for sure if they are a red or blue chip prospect because they are missing a key skill that it uses to determine whether or not to draft a player. My experience in V3 of the tool and newer is that these guys are very rarely worth drafting, so select at your own risk!
The tool will turn the row yellow when this status is calculated for a player.
DRAFT: Blue Chip Prospect
Ah, these are the guys we’re trying to find! This status means this prospect is highly likely to be 75+ OVR and one of the top players in the draft class. Most of these elite prospects will be projected for selection in the top rounds, but sometimes a guy will slip through the net and be available in the later rounds. These late-round gems are the guys you really need to find to separate yourself from the pack when it comes to drafting well.
The tool will turn the row blue when this status is calculated for a player.
Draft: Red Chip Prospect
Once a player has been sufficiently scouted, he may be designated as a red chipper. These guys are the value picks and the players that will provide depth in your class. They’re not usually day one starters (that’s the blue chippers), but can often progress into top players in their own right, and at the very least, will provide depth at positions of need and fill out your depth chart. They usually have OVRs between 70 and 74, though some will bleed up into blue chip territory. I’ve seen red chippers who are as high as 78 or 79 OVR because they were elite in every aspect except one small check that they failed against the blue chip criteria. Look out for red chippers with very high TVRs for this reason (more on TVR later).
In the post-October tuning update reality in which we live, draft classes have been nerfed into oblivion by EA, so it’s unlikely you’ll find a class full of blue chippers. Therefore hitting on some red chip prospects later in the draft is crucial in order to maximise your competitive advantage in the draft.
The tool will turn the row red when this status is calculated for a player.
Column T: SL Dev %
This is a new column for v4 that offers an indication of the likelihood a player will have Slow as their dynamic development trait (the trait that affects the cost and accumulation speed of XP points during the season). The default % chance of a player getting Slow dev is around 5%, but different draft stories can cause this probability to change. If a draft story is selected in column G, the values may change.
Column U: N Dev %
This is a new column for v4 that offers an indication of the likelihood a player will have Normal as their dynamic development trait (the trait that affects the cost and accumulation speed of XP points during the season). The default % chance of a player getting Normal dev is around 85%, but different draft stories can cause this probability to change. If a draft story is selected in column G, the values may change.
Column V: Q Dev %
This is a new column for v4 that offers an indication of the likelihood a player will have Slow as their dynamic development trait (the trait that affects the cost and accumulation speed of XP points during the season). The default % chance of a player getting Quick dev is around 5%, but different draft stories can cause this probability to change. If a draft story is selected in column G, the values may change.
Column W: SS Dev %
This is a new column for v4 that offers an indication of the likelihood a player will have Slow as their dynamic development trait (the trait that affects the cost and accumulation speed of XP points during the season). The default % chance of a player getting Superstar dev is around 5%, but different draft stories can cause this probability to change. If a draft story is selected in column G, the values may change.
Column X: True Value Rating (TVR)
This column is a non-editable one that gives you a number. This number is based on an algorithm and provides an indication of a player’s true value compared to other prospects. It can be used to rank the players and ensure you’re taking the best available at a given pick. You’ll find that players might have ridiculously low (some even in the negatives!) values until you’ve filled in all of their combine stats and scouted skills. For this reason, I recommend never drafting a player that isn’t fully scouted (and never drafting a player that declines to compete at the combine) and even removing non-fully scouted players from the tool before the draft so you’re never tempted to waste a pick on them.
If you’re interested in how this value is calculated, it’s roughly based on the following formula:
- The known stats for a player are calculated, based on unlocked skills, grades and combine performance.
- A theoretical value for the player’s other stats is guesstimated based on that value being X amount lower than the player’s third best unlocked skill.
- X is determined by the player’s talent round (or projected round if talent round isn’t input), since an Early 1st Rounder is much more likely to have good hidden skills than an Undrafted guy.
- The true OVR for the player is calculated using the known stats, theoretical value for unknown stats, and the weightings EA provided for which attributes make up which % of the OVR for different positions (you can view these in the Score Calculator tab of the tool).
- Anyone who has looked into the weightings EA released in any detail will have realised that the OVR you calculate using these weightings doesn’t bear much resemblance to the Actual OVR figure Madden provides in-game. Basically, the Actual OVR for Madden is on a curve to spread out the values to arbitrarily create separation between players: higher True OVR players get a big increase, guys in the middle have similar True OVR and Actual OVR, and guys with low True OVRs have even lower Actual OVRs. I used the day 1 stats to calculated a regression curve and intercept value for each position so I could convert the estimated True OVR to an estimated Actual OVR.
- The estimated Actual OVR is then normalised across positions based on the c. 25 draft classes I’ve been using as my test data, since some positions come out too low and some too high (largely dependent on how many unknown stats they have that affect OVR). I also added an extra arbitrary boost to this as I wanted to get users of the tool away from the mindset that TVR is synonymous with a predicted Actual OVR value (it’s not – it serves a different purpose). So TVR values end up in the 80s-90s, rather than the 70s-80s like they would if I didn’t add this extra arbitrary boost.
- I then subject the TVR value to various extra modifiers including age boosts/penalties, height boosts/penalties, draft story boosts/penalties, and team need. All of these extra boosts/penalties are editable in the tool, so you can zero them out if you wish to see a “raw” TVR value.
Column Y: Draft Board Rank
This column ranks players based on their true value rating number and allows you to quickly see who is at the top of the board. When you’ve finished scouting and just before the draft, you should sort on this column to rank your big board ready for the draft.
Draft Day Columns
Column Z: Draft Day: Player Taken?
This column can be used during the draft itself to mark players that have already been selected. It will make it easier to see who the best player available at a given pick is. You can enter an ‘X’ for any player that has been selected.
This field becomes quite crucial in online drafts where you have a limited amount of time to make your pick and need to quickly see who the best players still on your board are. Use this in combination with your watch list in the game itself.
Column AA: Post Draft: Actual OVR
You can input the actual OVR rating of a player in this column, as per the draft recap screen following the draft. The reason for including this column is, I must confess, a bit selfish. I’m hoping people will populate this info and upload their filled in spreadsheets to the Operation Sports thread so I have a broader sample of data on which to base future tweaks to the tool. If you’re feeling charitable, I’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this data and send it to me!
So that is how you enter data into the tool and get it to work for you. Let me know if something isn’t clear or you need more clarity about what different fields are for!