As usual in every recent iteration of Madden, Connected Franchise mode is back once again in Madden 18, allowing you to take control of a single franchise through simply becoming the GM, or through drafting out a brand new team. This Connected Franchise mode guide will help you find all the best young players at every position in the game, so you can go about assembling the cheapest team possible under the salary cap.
In this Madden 18 Best Young Players guide we’ll run down the best young QBs, the best young HBs, the best young WRs, the best young TEs, the best young DEs, the best young DTs, the best young linebackers, the best young CBs, and the best young safeties.
If you need help with anything else to do with Madden 18, for example the single best offensive and defensive playbooks in the game, on top of the best ways to get building your MUT team, then head over to our Madden 18 tips and tricks guide hub.
Madden 18 Connected Franchise Mode Best Young Players Guide
Why might you want to go after the best young players in Madden 18's Connected Franchise mode? For a start, these young players will be the cheapest under the NFL salary cap, which imposes a limit on the amount of money that teams can collectively spend in a single year on their players. Since these players are relatively new to the league and are largely unproven talents, they won't be demanding the high prices that stars like Aaron Rodgers or Julio Jones would be.
Madden 18 Best Young QBs
Young QBs are somewhat hard to come by in the NFL, and even harder to come by are the ones who can genuinely lead a team. The players below can do all that and even more for your Connected Franchise squad in Madden 18. These are the best young QBs in Madden 18.
- Jameis Winston (81 OVR, Age 23) - After being selected with the first overall pick by Tampa Bay a few seasons back, Winston has proved he's got what it takes to lead a team. He'll be a solid addition to any Connected Franchise team, with a powerful arm and the ability to take off and run if needs be.
- Marcus Mariota (80 OVR, Age 23) - Mariota might not have the Star development trait that Winston possesses, but he is rated Quick in the category, meaning his stats will improve rapidly based on his in-game experience, and his stats are pretty solid as they are.
- Dak Prescott (86 OVR, Age 24) - Prescott is fully capable of leading a team after only one season in the NFL, and if you pair him with a decent playmaker like he has in Dallas with Ezekiel Elliott, you're onto a winning combination for your Franchise team.
- Jimmy Garoppolo (77 OVR, Age 25) - Garoppolo might not compare to the other QBs on this list in terms of overall rating and throwing statistics, but he's still a nice pickup if you want a young quarterback who can sling the ball.
- Derek Carr (89 OVR, Age 26) - Carr might be the most talented young QB on this list, going by his stats and overall rating, but he's undoubtedly the most expensive of the bunch, having recently signed a monster deal with the Oakland Raiders in the league.
Madden 18 Best Young HBs:
The running back can easily be the core of your Connected Franchise team, if you surround them with some decent players on the offensive line. Even if you're not orientated around the run, it never hurts to have a solid running back who you can hand the ball off to whenever you need. These are the best young HBs in Madden 18.
- Christian McCaffrey (81 OVR, Age 21) - Boasting that key Star development rating, there's a good reason McCaffrey was the first pick of the Panthers in the 2017 NFL Draft. He's unproven for now, but McCaffrey is set to be a solid workhorse running back for any team.
- Jordan Howard (85 OVR, Age 22) - After just a single season for the Bears, Howard has established himself as a consistently reliable running back, one who'll always gain you vital yards whenever you need them in Connected Franchise.
- Leonard Fournette (81 OVR, Age 22) - Selected by the Jags this past Draft at the No. 4 overall pick, Fournette is set to be a young star in the NFL, and he'll certainly bring some firepower to your Connected Franchise offense.
- Dalvin Cook (80 OVR, Age 22) - Finishing his college career at Florida State as the all-time leading rusher for the school, Cook is primed to be a breakout star for the Vikings, and he'll undoubtedly be a valuable player for any Connected Franchise team.
- Todd Gurley (85 OVR, Age 23) - Gurley has been a relatively reliable running back for the Rams over the past season or so, and although he'll be nearing a new contract before long in Connected Franchise, you can't go wrong with his impressive skillset.
Madden 18 Best Young WRs:
No matter your general scheme in Connected Franchise mode, you always need a minimum of two decent wide receivers who can bail you out in long yardage situations. The receivers we've listed below should be available in the later rounds of a fantasy draft, since they don't rank up there with the likes of Antonio Brown or Julio Jones. These are the best young WRs in Madden 18.
- Tyreek Hill (83 OVR, Age 23) - Hill might not have had the most impressive of rookie seasons with the Chiefs, but he still boasts a superior speed rating and some reliable catching stats, on top of the Quick development trait.
- Sterling Shepard (80 OVR, Age 23) - Shepard enjoyed relative success with the Giants after being selected in the second round of the 2016 Draft, and he's primed for an even bigger role this year with Eli Manning. He'll be a reliable receiver for any Connected Franchise team, no matter who he has throwing the ball to him.
- Brandin Cooks (86 OVR, Age 23) - Gaining back to back 1,000 yard seasons for the Saints, Cooks can function as the speed receiver in your Connected Franchise offense, while not necessarily sacrificing catching intangibles for his speed.
- Amari Cooper (87 OVR, Age 23) - Cooper has flourished in the Raiders' offense with Derek Carr throwing him the ball, but he'll be a true No. 1 receiver for your Connected Franchise team no matter who's throwing him the ball.
- Stefon Diggs (86 OVR, Age 23) - Diggs exploded onto the NFL scene from nowhere just a season ago after being selected in the fifth round of the Draft. He's got some impressive and reliable hands, and he's also got the nice bonus of the Quick development trait.
Madden 18 Best Young TEs:
The tight end can be an incredibly overlooked position in Connected Franchise mode. The position can be excellent for both helping you run game by blocking for your HB, or for your passing plays by utilising superior size over guarding cornerbacks. These are the best young TE's in Madden 18.
- David Njoku (78 OVR, Age 21) - At the incredibly young age of 21, and with a solid overall rating of 78, Njoku is primed to be a tight end whose stats you can build upon quickly and consistently over the course of a season, especially with his Quick development trait.
- O.J. Howard (82 OVR, Age 22) - Another young tight end with some already impressive traits, Howard is poised for a big role in the Tampa Bay offense, and he could easily be a reliable tight end for any Connected Franchise team.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins (74 OVR, Age 24) - He might not be the youngest or the most talented tight end on this list, but Seferian-Jenkins is a player whose stats you could easily improve upon, given enough time and the right role in an offense.
Madden 18 Best Young DEs:
Defensive ends are a vital piece of your defense in Madden 18, as they'll be used to both blitz and put pressure on the QB, or they can be used to drop back into coverage when called upon. These are the best young DE's in Madden 18.
- Myles Garrett (83 OVR, Age 21) - Garrett is set to become an immediate force to be reckoned with in the Browns' defense, and despite his relative inexperience in the NFL, he can definitely be an impact player on your Connected Franchise roster.
- Derek Barnett (75 OVR, Age 21) - Selected with the fourteenth overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Barnett is set to be an excellent pass rusher for the Eagles, and he can definitely hold down the fort on the right side of your defensive line.
- Joey Bosa (88 OVR, Age 22) - Racking up double digit sacks in his rookie season, the sky's the limit for Bosa's talents, and he's a player that you can leave on the left side of your defensive line, and know that he'll consistently put pressure on the QB.
- Jonathan Allen (74 OVR, Age 22) - He might have one of the lower overall ratings on this list, but Allen boasts the Star development trait, meaning that as long as he's on the field, his already reliable statistics can only go up.
- Danielle Hunter (86 OVR, Age 22) - Having already played two seasons in the NFL and scored double digit sacks in his most recent one, Hunter is a young player that you can plug in the line and will perform for you right away, but he might be slightly expensive when it comes time to talk about a contract.
Madden 18 Best Young DTs:
It'll be up to your defensive tackles to primarily stop the run in Connected Franchise. They're a vital position for stopping the running back from making it to the secondary the beyond, and it's also up to them to put pressure on the pocket and the QB. These are the best young DT's in Madden 18.
- Solomon Thomas (79 OVR, Age 21) - Thomas was selected by the 49ers with just the third overall pick in the most recent NFL Draft, and he's clearly set become a player that can be relied upon in their defense.
- Danny Shelton (82 OVR, Age 24) - Shelton already has some NFL experience under his belt with two seasons, and although his stats might not line up with his skillset, he can still be a solid defensive player for your Connected Franchise.
- Grady Jarrett (82 OVR, Age 24) - Another player who hasn't quite matched up his sack record to his skillset, Jarrett could again be another player whose stats increase in a relatively short time, given his Quick development trait.
Madden 18 Best Young Linebackers:
The linebackers have to double up on assignments compared to most others positions across the field, as they can be charged with either blitzing, or hanging back in coverage and attempting to stop passing plays. Either way, they're arguably the most important position on your defense. These are the best young linebackers in Madden 18.
- Myles Jack (75 OVR, Age 21) - Myles Jack is a player who hasn't exactly blown people away after sitting out most of his rookie season, but with the Quick development trait, he is potentially a player whose stock could increase in your Connected Franchise team.
- Jaylon Smith (75 OVR, Age 22) - Smith might not have played a single down in the NFL after a series nerve injury, but he's primed to be a breakout star this season for the Cowboys, and he could potentially be a solid linebacker for any Connected Franchise team.
- Reuben Foster (77 OVR, Age 23) - Another young player with something to prove, Foster enters his first NFL season attempting to get a starting role in the 49ers defense. He could turn out to be an underrated star player, for any Connected Franchise team willing to take a slight chance on him.
- Shaq Thompson (83 OVR, Age 23) - Thompson has been a fairly solid player for the Panthers over the past two seasons, and he could be a very cheap option at linebacker for your Connected Franchise team.
- Leonard Floyd (77 OVR, Age 24) - Posting some solid numbers in his debut season for the Bears, Floyd can only go up with the right role in Connected Franchise mode.
- Jadeveon Clowney (82 OVR, Age 24) - He might not be the youngest player on this list, and a contract for Clowney in the near future might be pricey, but he's a player who can perform for you on day one of a Connected Franchise season.
Madden 18 Best Young CBs:
It's the responsibility of the cornerbacks to guard against either receivers or tight ends on running plays, as they effectively stand between your opponent and your endzone. You'll ideally want corners that can play both zone and man coverage, but it doesn't matter if a player is far superior at one than the other. These are the best young CBs in Madden 18.
- Tre'Davis White (78 OVR, Age 22) - Picked in the first round of the 2017 Draft by the Bills, White is set to be able to take on the No. 1 cornerback slot for the team, and he should be able to fill the same role pretty impressively in your Connected Franchise team.
- Jalen Ramsey (86 OVR, Age 22) - While he didn't exactly have the most spectacular debut season in the NFL last year, Ramsey is still a talented corner who can undoubtedly be the lynchpin in your Connected Franchise defense.
- Marcus Peters (88 OVR, Age 24) - He might have been picked in the first round of the NFL Draft, but Peters still somehow managed to go above and beyond everyone's expectations, becoming the No. 1 cornerback for the Chiefs in next to no time at all.
- Kevin Johnson (80 OVR, Age 25) - Johnson might have battled injuries so far in his relatively young career, but when healthy he can definitely be a solid player for any Connected Franchise team willing to roll the dice on him.
Madden 18 Best Young Safeties:
Your safeties can have different roles on the field, depending on what kind of schemes you mainly like to use. If you like to blitz packages, then you might find your safeties playing man coverage more often than zone, but this can switch up if you prefer to hang back and defend against the pass. These are the best young safeties in Madden 18.
- Keanu Neal (83 OVR, Age 22) - Having already been a large factor in the last Super Bowl with 13 tackles, Neal has proven he can be a lockdown strong safety for any team at a young age.
- Jamal Adams (81 OVR, Age 22) - Picked sixth overall in the 2017 Draft by the Jets, there's undoubtedly high hopes for Adams given the talent he put on display in college football. He's primed to be a standout strong safety, and he'd benefit any Connected Franchise team.
- Landon Collins (92 OVR, Age 23) - At a young age, Collins has already emerged as a star on defense for the Giants, able to lockdown receivers and anybody else that comes his way on the field.
- Byron Jones (84 OVR, Age 24) - With 88 tackles in the last NFL season alone, Jones has proven that he can lead on defense for the Cowboys, and he'll be an equally solid addition for any Connected Franchise squad.
Make sure to check out the wealth of additional Madden 18 guides we have here at USgamer, including the best MUT budget players available, as well as our guide to the best offensive and defensive playbooks you can get your hands on.
There you have it, the comprehensive list of being young players around the NFL, all of which you should be aiming to pick in Connected Franchise mode. With a young squad built up of players on this list, the only way your team is going is up, as every young players on this list has a Quick or better development trait.