He went from Rookie of the Year, to second-year record breaker, to third-year phenom leading the league in receptions and receiving yards and turning the Minnesota Vikings into legitimate contenders – all while giving the franchise the swag that it once had with Randy Moss in the late 90s / early 2000s.
Justin Jefferson is “griddy’ing” his way into the hearts of sports card collectors week after week, creating a substantial and likely sustainable value increase in all of his key rookie cards the likes of which skill position players don’t typically see.
He’s the total package, from Odell Beckham-esque catches in clutch situations to better numbers in his first three seasons than Moss had in his first three, JJ is giving even Kirk Cousins a bit of a cool-factor.
As a result, we expect his rookie cards to be valuable and collectable with likely sustainable growth. Let’s break them down…
The Value Tier includes cards with high print runs or lower-quality cardstock. A good fit for new collectors or those on a limited budget.
2020 Donruss #313 Base: One of the most common, recognizable rookie cards for JJ, featuring the classic Donruss Rated Rookie mark, with a solid action shot from his rookie season with the Vikings. Mass produced and easy to find, this card has still increased in value during the 2022 NFL season due to Jefferson’s phenomenal play. Variations in Canvas, Press Proof Blue, Press Proof Red, Aqueous Test and Press Proof Black are more rare, but feature the same action shot and overall design. Interestingly, this card has the second highest Gem Rate of all JJ rookies listed in this article, garnering a PSA 10 70% of the time it’s graded.
2020 Mosaic #270 NFL Debut: Mosaic has carved out a solid spot in the portfolios of football card investors over the past few seasons, with its hexagon pattern in the background helping the action shot pop. JJ’s RC shield in the top right corner is a color match with the Vikings purple, and like Donruss, this mass produced base rookie is still super liquid and popular, having also increased in value during the 2022 season due to Jefferson’s numbers and the Vikings’ success. In PSA 10, this card is the most transacted JJ rookie card on eBay over the last year, with 680 sales.
2020 Select #61 Concourse: Select features a darker overall tone, while still showing a bit of the playing surface behind a photo of JJ jogging off the field. A bit less desirable than the aforementioned cards, but still popular and toting a high sales volume and pricing increase during the 2022 NFL Season. If you were to get this card graded, you’d be 78% likely to get a PSA 10, according to GemRate.com – making it the highest Gem Rate rookie on this list.
2020 Optic #163 Base: The highest-end value rookie, Optic features some Donruss design characteristics but with an updated action shot on chromium material, making it a bit more desirable. This card has a 54% Gem Rate, 16% less likely to get a PSA 10 than its Donruss paper cousin.
This tier includes cards from the most popular sets across both retail and hobby formats. Typically easy to buy or sell when needed.
2020 Prizm #398 Base: Prizm is typically considered the most popular rookie card for football and basketball players, but in this case, Prizm is third behind Mosaic and Donruss in terms of sales volume, and is the only card that is down in value over the last 365 days with more than 130 sales. In PSA 10, it’s down 34.1%, making it a decent time to snag one, considering it’s pop is less than 900 and only gems 28% of the time. It’s Silver cousin is also down in PSA 10 over the last 365 days but is an extremely popular card and should be of interest to any football collector for the next few years.
2020 Select #161 Premier Level Silver: An eye-catching silver shine on the classic Select design highlights the Premier Level Silver along with an action shot of Jefferson getting off the line and into his route. Premier Level is short printed compared to Select Concourse, and is only a pop 36 in PSA 10, giving it a rare element among popular rookies.
2020 Optic #163 Holo: The shiny Prizm-esque cousin short print of the base Optic features the same design and action shot otherwise, but is more desirable due to its rarity compared to base.
2020 Mosaic #209 Silver: An affordable card in PSA 10 with a pop count under 300, the Mosaic Silver is a short print run compared to its base version, and more achievable price-wise than Select Premier Level Silver, Prizm Silver and Optic Holo.
MORE UNIQUE ROOKIES:
This tier includes cards with lower print runs, unique designs, or cards from hobby-only products. Usually higher-quality cards than the Value or Popular tiers, though not necessarily more popular or easier to buy or sell.
2020 Prizm #398 Orange /249: The fact that there are only 249 in existence inherently gives the Prizm Orange rarity and ultimately value compared to its other Prizm counterparts.
2020 Donruss Press Proof Gold /50: Not only do sports card investors love the Donruss Rated Rookie look, but they love Gold, because Gold means rarity. The Donruss brand typically issues short printed “Press Proofs” of Rated Rookies each year, and there are only 50 of the Gold, making it one of his more unique rookie cards. Perhaps the most valuable of the 50 would be his jersey number 18/50.
2020 Certified Mirror /299: Certified is not normally one of the most popular brands, but the uniqueness of the Mirror finish and the fact that there are only 299 copies of this card make it rare enough to put on this list.
2020 Optic Rated Rookie Auto /150: This on-card autograph version of the popular Optic brand is one of the most desirable rookie cards JJ has. If you can get your hands on one of the 150 copies he hand signed, consider yourself very fortunate, as it should rise in value over the next few seasons if he can stay healthy.
RAREST AND MOST EXCLUSIVE:
This category may be out of reach for most collectors due to price, but they have the highest upside as investments heading into the future and are still fun to look at. Don’t worry if this tier is too pricey as there’s a host of options in other categories that could be perfect for your collection.
2020 Donruss Optic Holo Auto /99: Super clean and shiny, JJ signed 99 of these on the cards themselves, and it is one of the cleanest, best designed cards he has. As such, it should command high dollar as long as he dominates the statlines.
2020 Contenders Optic Blue Auto /75: Contenders has become one of the most desirable brands for rookie autos, due to the Rookie Ticket Auto brand and design. The blue prizm variation out of 75 is close enough to a color match to keep collectors chasing this card. The on-card signature over Optic chromium finish makes it a slick addition to any collection/portfolio.
2020 Prizm Black Gold Auto /10: There’s only 10 Prizm Gold of every card, and this one also features a sticker auto. The Prizm Black brand is a photo variation.
2020 Prizm Gold Rookie Patch Auto /10: Despite the patch not being player-worn, let alone game-worn, and the auto being a sticker, the rarity of the Prizm Gold /10 makes this one of the top JJ rookie cards to chase.
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Paul Hickey is a regular contributor to Sports Card Investor, the creator of the Sports Card Investment Report at NoOffseason.com, and the host of the Sports Card Strategy Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube. He can be found on Instagram at @sportscardstrategy and on Twitter @nooffseasoncard.