Heaven only knows what all goes into putting schedules together for 32 NFL teams. We figure you have to factor in time zones, distances traveled, venue availability and other variables when piecing the league’s biggest puzzle together. And now, with a 17th game added to everyone’s calendar, things have only gotten more complicated.
One thing’s for certain: for the 2021 campaign, it seems as if organizers wanted to sprinkle in as much drama before the season’s halfway point as possible. That might be the best explanation for why Dallas-Tampa Bay and Buffalo-Pittsburgh are on the slate for Week 1, why the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tussle with the New England Patriots is circled for Week 4, and why Arizona’s JJ Watt and DeAndre Hopkins battle against their old team, the Houston Texans, on Week 7.
After analyzing the first half of the schedule, we noticed some interesting potential card plays. While some other match-ups (like Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold’s first meeting against the New York Jets) might have more revenge-game energy, these following three cards could have some staying power. Translation: any card action taken with them in spring may translate into serious fall profits.
Leonard Fournette- 2017 Prizm Silver PSA 10
According to ESPN prognosticator Mike Clay, the Buccaneers have the easiest schedule in the league. But where most people are focused on the team cakewalking through the first two months, we’re licking our chops about potentially profitable plays. Let’s say Tampa Bay gets off to a 6-0 or 5-1 start. The attention surrounding Brady’s bunch will be ridiculous. The roster’s big names will be obvious card choices, but what about a few sneaky names in the backfield like Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones II? Either could find some early-season success on the ground.
Fournette averaged 75 rushing yards over the Bucs’ four playoff games. He had 135 total yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. This year he’ll have another year in the Bucs offense under his belt, an o-line returning every starter and two early opponents, Dallas and Atlanta, that rank in the bottom third for most yards allowed per game.
Fournette’s 2017 Prizm Silver hit $340 back in early September 2020, but prices have since settled to around $100. If he can take a hold of the starting running back job with 100-yard games early on, this card might find a hole and see some positive movement.
Stefon Diggs- 2015 Prizm Silver PSA 10
Over the first six weeks of the season, the Buffalo Bills have two prime-time games. The national exposure gives fans across the country the chance to see Devin Singletary, Stefon Diggs, Zack Moss and budding QB star Josh Allen defend their first AFC East crown since 1995.
The guy not named “Josh” who may be the best card play from that impressive roster is Diggs. An electric presence in the open field, Diggs led the NFL in receptions last year and had 10 regular-season and playoff games with at least 100 yards receiving. Yet, when pundits list off their top five receivers, Diggs routinely gets overlooked.
The oversight carries over to the hobby, too, where this 2015 Prizm Silver has averaged sales of $339 over the past year compared to $964 for DeAndre Hopkins’ 2013 Prizm Silver and $737 for Julio Jones’ 2011 Topps Chrome Refractor. We don’t know if a few explosive outings on national TV will change hobbyists’ minds about where to place Diggs alongside his wideout contemporaries, but it’ll certainly get’em to thinking.
Patrick Mahomes II- 2018 Panini Kaboom
The Chiefs were embarrassed 31-9 in the Super Bowl. They have a bit of image rebuilding in front of them this year. Any PR push has to start with PM. Patrick Mahomes II’s first three games of the new season are against Cleveland, Baltimore and the LA Chargers, quality squads that combined for a 29-19 mark last year. Mahomes will have his hands full, no doubt, but we think the idea of the star Chiefs QB having any kind of chip on his shoulder has scary-good potential.
In fact, we’re so unworried about Mahomes getting his mojo back that we’re keeping our eye on even more of his cards these days. But rather than solely focus on his rookie year, we’ve moved our gaze to some of 2018’s eye candy. This Kaboom, in particular, is a favorite. The silver backdrop and red “Kaboom!” just go so well with the image of Mahomes tossing a dart in the home white uniform. A PSA 10 sold for $5,500 late April. If you time your purchase of a vibrant PSA 9 or even a smooth-surfaced raw just right, you could be seeing green by October.
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