Top-rated players at every position in 'Madden NFL 18'

Already planning your "Madden NFL 18" fantasy draft? Or just itching to play when the newest version of the game -- with Tom Brady on the cover -- drops later this month?

We've got you covered with the highest-rated players at each position in the game. Go here to view the top-rated player on all 32 teams.

Quarterback: Tom Brady, New England Patriots (99)

Best sub-category: Awareness, stamina, throw accuracy short, play-action (99)

How many 40-year-olds have been ranked as the top anything in a sports video game -- other than maybe as a coach? That should give some perspective on Brady and how the Madden Cover Boy is viewed both in the NFL and Madden worlds. Unfortunately, if you use Brady, you should be confined to only wearing his sleep recovery pajamas and eating avocado ice cream while controlling him. You shouldn't mind much, though, because when you do use him, you've got the best of all time.

Next-closest QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (98), Matt Ryan, Atlanta (96)

Running back: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (97)

Best sub-category: Juke move (98)

Luckily for the virtual Steelers, Bell won't be holding out of your game (although that would be a fantastic feature for future years, EA). But if you like running in Madden, Bell is the pixelated person for you. His agility (95) and awareness (91) are tied for fifth among running backs, and he has the best stiff arm among backs (95). His balance isn't surprising after he had 724 yards before contact and 544 yards after contact last season -- both numbers in the top 10.

Next-closest RBs: David Johnson, Arizona (94), LeSean McCoy, Buffalo (92)

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco 49ers (91)

Best sub-category: Injury (93)

The position may be disappearing in the NFL, but Juszcyzk has value. His speed (82) and acceleration (88) are pretty good, and he's the second-best pass-blocking fullback (79). But let's be real -- not many people are using fullbacks often in Madden, especially not as a runner -- and that equates to his real-life stats (five rushes, 22 yards last season).

Next-closest FBs: Patrick DiMarco, Buffalo and James Develin, New England (84)

Wide receiver: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (98)

Best sub-category: Awareness (99)

Antonio Brown was the top guy last year, and he's right behind Jones this year. Some could argue he should be ahead of him. But virtual and real-life Jones have earned the spectacular catch rating he has (98) after an 83-catch, 1,409-yard season last year -- better than Brown's 1,284 yards. Jones and Brown are together in catching (98) and are close in spectacular catch (Brown is 97), catch-in-traffic (Brown is 98, Jones is 97) and route-running (Brown is 97, Jones is 96). They are close in almost every rating except strength, where Jones is a 78 and Brown is a 54. That might have been the difference.

Next-closest WRs: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (97), A.J. Green, Cincinnati (94).

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (98)

Best sub-category: Catch in traffic (96)

Is anyone really beating Gronk, when healthy, either as a tight end or having fun in life? If Madden had a fun rating, Gronk might be the first to rate over 100. His primary tight end competition, Travis Kelce, would be close behind. But Gronk's hands are rated appropriately with a 95, behind only Carolina's Greg Olsen among TEs. He's rated the fifth-highest in toughness at the position (93), fitting both his personality and his play.

Next-closest TEs: Travis Kelce, Kansas City (94), Jimmy Graham, Seattle (93)

Offensive tackle: Trent Williams, Washington Redskins (95)

Best sub-category: Pass block footwork (97)

The blind-side protector of Kirk Cousins overtook Tyron Smith as the top-rated tackle this year, as part of a group that allowed sacks on only 3.8 percent of pass attempts -- good for fourth in the NFL. Washington also gained 6.4 yards per play, second in the league, in part because of the strength of the line.

Next-closest OT: Tyron Smith, Dallas (94), Joe Thomas, Cleveland (92)

Offensive guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens (96)

Best sub-category: Toughness (99)

This shouldn't be a surprise. Yanda is one of the best guards in the league in real life and a premier pass blocker with a 98 rating. If you're questioning it, Pro Football Focus backs Yanda up. The website named Yanda the NFL's best offensive lineman last year, and cited his run blocking more than his pass protection. His pass protection has the higher Madden rating, but that should tell you how good he really is. According to PFF, he allowed six hurries in 612 snaps. That's 99.2 percent efficiency and according to the site, the best rate the site has had for a guard since they started calculating the stat. In other words, he's really, really good.

Next closest OG: Zack Martin, Dallas (95), Kelechi Osemele, Oakland (92)

Center: Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys (93)

Best sub-category: Run-block strength (99)

Four NFL seasons, three Pro Bowl selections and last year, an All-Pro nod too. He's the man in the middle on the best offensive line in the NFL, opening holes for Ezekiel Elliott and keeping Dak Prescott from being tossed around as a rookie. It's the second straight year Frederick is the top center in the game, and the second year in a row his run-block strength graded out as a 99.

Next closest C: Alex Mack, Atlanta (91), Rodney Hudson, Oakland (90)

Defensive end: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (99)

Best sub-category: Power moves (96)

Somehow -- and it's still baffling -- Donald slipped to the No. 13 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. The Rams should never be upset about that. Teams like Cleveland and Detroit, who passed on him despite needs, should be. Donald was reclassified in Madden from tackle to end because the Rams are switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4. He should be able to improve on his 47-tackle, eight-sack season last year, too. If he doesn't there's a good chance Watt -- who likely lost his 99 rating because he played only three games last year -- moves back into the top spot a year from now. Watt rates better than Donald in finesse moves (90 to 82), block-shedding (93 to 91) and pursuit (95 to 88) but Donald has better speed (83 to 78) and acceleration (90 to 83).

Next-closest DE: J.J. Watt, Houston (98), Brandon Graham (95)

Defensive tackle: Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins (93)

Best sub-category: Strength, toughness (98)

Anyone who has seen Suh in person -- and I did for two years when he was with the Lions -- does not doubt his strength or toughness. His arms and hands look like he could pulverize a brick without issue if he pushed hard enough. He's one of the fiercest players, too (see his many, many fines). Suh continued his dominance last season with 72 tackles, five sacks and continued attention in the middle of defenses. He's also remarkably durable as a defensive lineman, not having missed a game since 2011 -- when he was suspended.

Next-closest DT: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati and Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia (91)

Outside linebacker: Von Miller, Denver Broncos (99)

Best sub-category: Pursuit (98)

A 98 in pursuit? Opposing quarterbacks might argue that number should be higher. He had more than 10 sacks in all but one of his NFL seasons, including 13.5 last year, along with a career-high 78 tackles. Good news is if you use Miller enough in this year's game, you might have a shot at appearing on his Instagram (kidding). Bad news is he might make you go through his offseason "Chameleon Training," as detailed in the Denver Post. That work should make Miller a better player this season, which is good for the Broncos and even better (if possible) for his Madden future.

Next-closest OLB: Khalil Mack, Oakland (97), Justin Houston, Kansas City (93)

Inside linebacker: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers (98)

Best sub-category: Stamina, toughness (99)

Not much changed for Kuechly. His overall rating dropped by one (99 to 98) but his tackling rating of 98 remained the same. As colleague Scott Miller wrote last year, that might "seem too low." His stamina and toughness remained at 99 this season after another 100-plus tackle season (102 last year) with two sacks. Keep in mind, he did that in 10 games -- and his 10.2 tackles per game would have put him behind only Bobby Wagner's 10.43 in tackles per game.

Next-closest ILB: Bobby Wagner, Seattle (93); Dont'a Hightower, New England and C.J. Mosley, Baltimore (89)

Cornerback: Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos (94)

Best sub-categories: Man coverage (Harris 97, Talib 96)

The lesson here is: Don't throw on Denver in Madden. If you try, you've got Von Miller off the edge trying to destroy your quarterback and then, if you get it away, Harris and Talib locking down your receivers. Neither one had a huge interception total last season (Talib three picks, Harris two) but they were a large reason why opponents threw for an NFL-low 185.8 yards against the Broncos, at 5.38 yards per attempt. Not a good situation unless you've got the Cover Boy on the other side to neutralize things. Even he struggled to 188 yards and no touchdowns against Denver last year. It was one of two games last season -- Seattle was the other -- in which Brady did not throw a touchdown pass. It was also his lowest completion percentage (50 percent) and yardage of the regular season.

Next-closest CB: Malcolm Butler, New England (92), Patrick Peterson, Arizona (91)

Safety: Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks (95)

Best sub-category: Hit power (97)

Did you really think the Legion of Boom would go unrepresented in these ratings? As dominant as Denver's corners might be, Seattle's safeties are right there. The Seahawks have the best free safety and strong safety in the game (Chancellor's the strong safety, Earl Thomas III the free safety). Chancellor's hit power is no lie -- tight end Vernon Davis said the hardest hit he has ever taken came from Chancellor, per the Washington Post. His 81 tackles were his most since 2013, and his play recognition (91), zone coverage (90) and toughness (92) show a complete strong safety.

Next-closest S: Eric Berry, Kansas City and Earl Thomas III, Seattle (94)

Kicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens (87)

Best sub-category: Kick power, kick accuracy (98)

Really? Tucker's rating seems way too low. There's no question he's the best kicker in the league. He was so close to perfect last year (38 of 39 on field goals, 27 of 27 on extra points) and has one of the strongest legs in the game. He should be worth at least a 90 rating, if not higher. He's the highest-rated kicker in accuracy and tied with Detroit's Matt Prater for the best kick power. He deserves a higher mark.

Next-closest K: Matt Bryant, Atlanta (85); Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis and Dan Bailey, Dallas (84)

Punter: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams (86)

Best sub-category: Kick power (97)

Same argument for Hekker that I made for Tucker. Why so low, Madden raters? Yes, Tucker and Hekker are very specialized, but they are some of the best ever at their position. Hekker has the third-best punting average in NFL history, tied with Detroit's Sam Martin at 46.9 yards. They are behind Shane Lechler (47.5 ypp) and Thomas Morstead (47.0 ypp). Hekker's the most accurate punter in the game (96 rating) but his power is behind Marquette King and Tress Way (98 each).

Next-closest P: Bryan Anger, Tampa Bay and Marquette King, Oakland (85)

Top-rated players on each team, by rating

Denver Broncos: OLB Von Miller, 99
Los Angeles Rams: DE Aaron Donald, 99
New England Patriots: QB Tom Brady, 99
Atlanta Falcons: WR Julio Jones, 98
Carolina Panthers: MLB Luke Kuechly, 98
Green Bay Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers, 98
Houston Texans: DE J.J. Watt, 98
Oakland Raiders: OLB Khalil Mack, 97
Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Le'Veon Bell & WR Antonio Brown, 97
Baltimore Ravens: OG Marshal Yanda, 96
Dallas Cowboys: OG Zack Martin, 95
Philadelphia Eagles: DE Brandon Graham, 95
Seattle Seahawks: S Kam Chancellor, 95
Washington Redskins: OT Trent Williams, 95
Arizona Cardinals: RB David Johnson, 94
Cincinnati Bengals: WR A.J. Green, 94
Kansas City Chiefs: S Eric Berry & TE Travis Kelce, 94
Miami Dolphins: DT Ndamukong Suh, 93
Minnesota Vikings: S Harrison Smith, 93
New York Giants: WR Odell Beckham Jr., 93
Tennessee Titans: TE Delanie Walker, 93
Buffalo Bills: RB LeSean McCoy, 92
Cleveland Browns: OT Joe Thomas, 92
New Orleans Saints: QB Drew Brees & DE Cameron Jordan, 92
Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Calais Campbell, 91
San Francisco 49ers: FB Kyle Juszczyk, 91
Indianapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck, 90
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Mike Evans & DT Gerald McCoy, 90
Chicago Bears: OG Josh Sitton, 89
Detroit Lions: CB Darius Slay Jr., 89
Los Angeles Chargers: WR Keenan Allen & Melvin Ingram, 89
New York Jets: DE Leonard Williams, 85