Before the football season’s kickoff, NFL.com tallied votes from representatives of every team and compiled a list of the 100 top players entering the new season. Spoiler alert: not one of the three guys highlighted in this story made the list. And it’s not that Indianapolis’ Carson Wentz and the L.A. Rams’ Cooper Kupp are sleepers. The former is a 2017 All-Pro and the later has 90+ receptions the last two seasons. Samuel didn’t exactly come from nowhere, either. He’s been the San Francisco 49ers’ best receiver not named “George Kittle” for a few years now. But for some reason, experts and card collectors weren’t quite sold on them.
Fast forward a few months, however, and that aforementioned top 100 already feels dated. This season, Samuel has more receiving yards than the 49ers’ next top five receivers combined. Kupp has blossomed into one of the league’s most dependable set of hands. And Wentz has the Colts in second place in the AFC South. But what does any of this mean for their cards? It’s funny you should ask…
Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams
When the Rams opened the 2021 season, the 2017 Optic PSA 10 for L.A.’s sure-handed Kupp was moving for $32. Kupp had seven receptions, 108 yards and a TD in that first game. He’s followed that showing with big outings in Week 2 (nine receptions, 163 yards, two TDs), Week 3 (96 yards, two TDs), Week 6 (130 yards, two TDs) and Week 7 (10 receptions, 156 yards, two TDs). For those keeping score at home, Kupp has 56 receptions through seven games. During Michael Thomas’ record-setting 149-reception 2019 campaign, he only had six more catches through the first seven weeks than Kupp. But even with those jaw-dropping numbers, Kupp’s Optic is still a reasonable $125. Should he catch or eclipse Thomas’ mark — and honestly, at this point in Kupp’s crazy season, we’re not doubting anything — expect major movement with prices.
Carson Wentz, Indianapolis
Wentz has been a hobby darling before. It was around Thanksgiving 2017 and the-then Philadelphia Eagles QB was riding a ridiculously high wave. But not long after, Wentz tore his ACL, Nick Foles took the reins and led Philly to the Super Bowl. Since that dramatic turn, Wentz has been traded to Indianapolis, dealt with other injuries and had a COVID scare. Some of those unpleasant headlines are to blame for Wentz’s cards stalling at the cash register. His 2016 Prizm Silver PSA 10 sold for $525 on August 5, but as of October 25, it was going for as low as $182. But the dip isn’t indicative of what Wentz is currently doing on the field. At press time, the Colts had won three of its last four games and Wentz hadn’t thrown an interception since Week 2. If he can toss a few more 300-yard beauties, win a couple more games in a row and stay healthy, there may be some ’17 magic left to be sprinkled around the hobby.
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco
No matter which quarterback is in the huddle for the 49ers, Samuel has made sure that his name is consistently called for plays. The team’s unquestioned WR1, Samuel paces the team in receptions, touchdowns and yards in ‘21. We can only imagine where those totals would be if either Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance ever took a stranglehold of the signal-calling. But we feel a day of reckoning is near. With Lance getting healthier, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan will have to make a QB decision and stick with it. When he does, expect even greater things from Samuel on the field and in the card industry. The third-year wideout’s 2019 Prizm Silver has already started to pick up steam, going up 64% to $199 since late-September. With some steadiness under center (and a few more 100-yard showings), this may be just the beginning of Samuel’s spike.
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