The summer without sports has drawn on, but the (virtual) games are close to returning.
With the release of Madden NFL 21 coming next month, the player ratings for the newest installment of the popular game slowly are trickling out. We know the top-10 quarterbacks, running backs and the four members of the "Madden 99 Club," of which 49ers tight end George Kittle was not a part of.
As with everything in life, there has to be winners and losers (yes, even in video game rankings). So let's take a quick look at who came out on top, and who was left searching or wanting more when it comes to the Madden 21 ratings.
Winner: The Madden 99 Club
It's an elite group every year. The select few players are given a 99 rating in Madden, meaning they are the best of the best, according to those exalted video game gods doing the rankings. This year's class included no shockers, with Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Donald, Christian McCaffrey and Stephon Gilmore making the club.
There could be an argument made for Kittle, DeAndre Hopkins or Michael Thomas, all of whom were given a 98 rating, but it's hard to argue with the 2021 99 Club.
The celebratory dinner is on Mahomes.
Loser: Jimmy Garoppolo
The 49ers quarterback has spent all season getting poked and prodded by every Tom, Dick and Harry with a keyboard, podcast or television show. There was the Tom Brady scenario. The Aaron Rodgers questions. All the talk about the Super Bowl overthrow and not enough about a defense that fell flat in the fourth quarter.
And now, Garoppolo finds himself with an 83 rating and not in the top 10 of quarterbacks in Madden 21? Ouch. That burns. To be fair, I ranked Garoppolo as the 12th best quarterback in the NFL, which likely is where he will fall in the Madden rankings.
The quarterbacks above him include, Mahomes, Brady, Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz. It's hard to argue that Garoppolo is better than any of those (I did rank him one spot higher than Prescott).
After another year in Shanahan's system, there's a chance for Garoppolo to have a big year, win a Super Bowl and boost his Madden rating. You know, the truly important stuff.
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Winner: George Kittle
No, he didn't make the "Madden 99 Club," but 98 isn't so bad, right?
Kittle has become one of the NFL's top stars during his three seasons in the NFL, and already has eclipsed Travis Kelce as the top tight end in football. Kittle is due a big contract extension, one that many believe should see him paid the same as Hopkins and Thomas, who he has the same ranking as.
One more season of stiff-arming helpless defenders into the turn and Kittle will get that "99 Club" package. Can't wait.
Loser: Running back rankings
The running back rankings were released Tuesday, and we've got a few issues.
OK, so McCaffrey at 99 is easy. I know Derrick Henry is a mutant alien who is impossible to tackle but is he really the second-best running back in the NFL? Is he better than Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley or Dalvin Cook? The committee of one i.e. me, says no.
Then, there's some massive disrespect to both Alvin Kamara and Josh Jacobs, who both are top seven running backs in my opinion.
Here are my totally off-the-cuff rankings:
Please, don't at me.
Winner: Henry Ruggs
The 2020 NFL Draft was LOADED at wide receiver. It was viewed as one of the best receiver classes in history.
When all the smoke settled, Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs was given the top rating off the class at 76. Ruggs edged out Dallas Cowboys rookie CeeDee Lamb and Denver Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy for top rookie receiver, thanks to the 98-speed rating he was given.
Honestly, that might not be fast enough.
Loser: People who care about Madden rankings
I get it, video games are fun. But if you're sitting over here fuming mad because some guy you've never met gave a player you've probably also never met a lower ranking than you believe they deserved, please calm down.
First, let's acknowledge that you, the person who cares deeply about the Madden rankings, isn't looking at this through an unbiased lens. Second, if it really bothers you, I suggest doing what I would do at age 8. Go into the roster, edit your favorite players to make them super dope and then just have fun destroying everyone.
I've still never told my best friend I tinkered with Dennis Dixon... sorry, I mean QB #10's ranking in NCAA Football 2007. Mum's the word.