While you were glued to the TV watching New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom strikeout nine consecutive Colorado Rockies the other day, some other card investor two states over was using his April afternoon to get his strategy together for the upcoming NFL season.
With the NFL Draft slated for April 29 through May 1, the timing couldn’t be better to talk about the upcoming football season. But beyond asking which draft picks will have immediate impacts on their new team, we should be asking how their presence will affect current players’ card prices.
Another reason we’re talking football cards in spring—lower costs. It’s only natural that products in particular sports that aren’t actively playing tend to fetch fewer dollars. It’s simple economics that If it’s not in the news or on social media timelines, it’s generally not generating buzz or eBay sells.
According to Market Movers, Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 2020 Donruss Optic Holo raw is going for around $100 right now. The same card was selling for $380 back in early-December. Tua hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong in that span; the Fins just haven’t been playing. Smart investors know this and hunt for deals accordingly.
Keeping all of this in mind, we put together a list of NFL names to keep an eye on right now. Unfortunately, we can’t promise positive gains in your portfolio, but we’re sure any baseball consumption you’re doing right now should be balanced out with a healthy diet of football analysis.
Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receivers
Even if the Jags hadn’t won the Trevor Lawrence lottery with the first pick of the upcoming draft, we’d still be declaring our love for Jacksonville wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. Fans of his size (6’1,” 225 pounds) and sticky hands, we’ve had our gaze on him since he was terrorizing corners with the University of Colorado. Though QBs Gardner Minshew II and Mike Glennon didn’t exactly light it up for the 1-15 Jaguars, Shenault Jr. still had a team-leading 58 receptions and five touchdowns his rookie season. With Lawrence’s golden arm on the way, we expect those numbers to go up in 2021.
The same goes for D.J. Chark Jr., the Jags’ other gifted receiver. The explosive wideout has shown flashes, but unpredictable QB play has done nothing for his overall stat line. Lawrence may have some three-interception games in his future, but if he balances those with a few three-TD, 300-yard outings, Chark Jr., Shenault Jr. and even tight end James O’Shaughnessy will reap major benefits. And you know what that means for your card portfolio, right?
Now-Healthy Running Backs
Not long before New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley went down with a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 campaign, his 2018 Prizm Silver rookie card PSA 10 was sold for $1,500. Two months after the season-ending incident, you could score the very same card for $600. That isn’t news; prices usually drop after injuries. But the fact the card is still sitting around at that price today, even when Barkley is trending towards a return by the start of the season, is a tad surprising.
Post-injury seasons can lead to some massive returns or major heartache for hobbyists, if the player struggles to capture that old magic. We don’t know what kind of rabbits Barkley will pull out of his helmet, but a revamped Giants offensive line will certainly help.
Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey are two other reinvigorated former All-Pros with something to prove after injury-infested campaigns. McCaffrey’s 2017 Prizm Silver rookie card PSA 10 sat at $450 at press time, down from $869 at the season’s start. The 48 percent dip is certainly worthy of an April/May gamble, especially when you hear how well he and new QB Sam Darnold are already clicking.
Speaking of Darnold, there are a lot of investors keeping their fingers crossed that the former New York Jet has a better season now that he’s relocated to Carolina. Darnold’s 2018 Prizm Silver PSA 10 won’t stay at the robust $800 if he has another 9-TD, 11-Int season with the Panthers. But if he can muster a rebirth in the Queen City, you could be looking like a king come November.
Jared Goff is another signal caller in a new home trying to get back to his old ways. Taking over QB duties in Detroit (while Matthew Stafford trades places in LA), Goff is hoping to build a rapport with T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift as quickly as possible. Should he get back to his 32-TD level, folks who rounded up Goff’s 2016 Donruss Optic Holo for $150 will look like geniuses.
As for Cam Newton buyers, they’re still a little sore about last year. The 2015 NFL MVP came to New England with a chip on his shoulder and a Hall of Fame coach, Bill Belichick, by his side. None of that mattered much, though, as Newton’s uneven stat line — Cam had games of 34 and 365 passing yards roughly one month apart from each other — did little to generate buzz for his 2011 Topps RC PSA 10. Still, the Pats re-signed him this offseason, giving the experiment one more chance. If things go decently, and you have your stash of Newton rookie cards at the ready, you’ll be sitting pretty.
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