Contributor: John Dudley
There is no greater time for overreactions in the hobby than after the first NFL weekend. Ok, that might be an overreaction itself, but just a small one. Card collectors are even more prone to hyperbole and knee-jerk reactions.
That said, there are good reasons for football collectors to move fast. The football market swings wildly during the season and collectors can make, or lose, a ton by being ahead or behind the trends. So let’s check out the reactions to the opening weekend’s big performances, be they good, bad, or ugly (injuries), and evaluate if the current hype around them is real or all smoke and mirrors.
Justin Jefferson is not a sleeper at all. He was projected to be a top-five receiver by pretty much every writer and organization. What he is is a great example of the advantages collectors can get when they notice a disconnect between pricing and perception. Jefferson was perceived as a top-five guy but was not getting priced like it at the end of last year. Consequently, many collectors have had Jefferson pegged as “their guy” they love to pick up on the cheap. Even so, the skepticism about any non-QB position kept his prices reasonable all off-season.
His stellar Week 1 game gave Jefferson’s cards a nice bump with PSA 10 Prizm rookies jumping from $85 all the way to $150 but have settled to $135. I’m buying the hype on Jefferson as I think, like everyone else pretty much, that he has a great shot at being a top-5 WR.
Saquon Barkley announced he and the Giants are ready to play in 2022. I’ll be honest. I thought Saquon was done for. Running Backs have short shelf lives and that seems to be getting shorter by the day. I fully expected him to join the list of cautionary tale RBs that teams overpaid for.
Barkley’s PSA 10 Prizm rookie has jumped to $85 up from $50. The big question though is if this is just a one-week blip. While I’m not sure it is, I just don’t trust Barkley for long. I do kind of like the idea of the Giants and Barkley doing well for the first few weeks with winnable games against the Panthers, Cowboys, and Bears. A 4-0 start and big numbers could lead to big spikes which could be interesting for short-term plays. Overall though, I’m not buying the hype.
Trevor Lawrence had a rough first year, but the prevailing sentiment is to write it off as tainted by Urban Meyer. He didn’t secure the win in his first 2022 start, but he showed signs of life and more promise than in all of 2021. He did throw a pick to effectively end the Jags’ chances though. Collectors were left on the fence about Lawrence with his cards holding steady for the most part.
The fact that a middling performance is cause enough to put T.Law in the good column tells you how bad his 2021 was. Improved optimism for Lawrence might be a little premature but given his pedigree and the circumstances of his first season, I think the slight improvement in the perceptions about Lawrence seems warranted so I’m buying the hype. This isn’t that bold of a call though as the hype is very faint so far.
Aaron Rodgers is the subject of hot takes around the world this week and rightfully so. Is the hype overblown? Sure, but there is a lot to be skeptical about in Green Bay. With few weapons left, Rodgers faces an uphill battle. We’ve seen HOF-level quarterbacks elevate middling WR corps, but this might be too much to ask of even Rodgers. I’m not doubting his ability, but I think his degree of difficulty is high this year. Still, Rodgers is an elite HOF-QB and any downturn this year in prices I’ll view as a buying opportunity. I am buying the hype that Rodgers and the Pack are in for a rough season (cue 15-1 run).
Trey Lance lost the battle of the 2021 QBs and is already hearing doubts about his job from well-respected NFL coaches. In his defense, the game was rain-soaked. He did leave little to hang one’s hopes on though and took a few big shots. Lance’s Silver Prizm rookies are going for $65-$90 down ever so slightly. He is still a highly touted QB in what should be a decent offense, but I still haven’t seen anything to hang my hat on yet so I’m buying the hype that Lance is on the downslide.
Joe Burrow had a bad game. They happen. Five turnover days though. Oof. Burrow himself has acknowledged that defenses have adjusted to prevent big plays. That may be true, but I’m not buying the hype and expect a strong year from Burrow and the Bengals WRs.
In a week with multiple big injuries, Dak Prescott’s stands out. He may end up back sooner than originally expected but the Cowboys’ season hinges on Dak driving the offense. Dak was on a lot of off-season buy lists, so this injury likely hit home to many collectors. Dak’s cards have cooled a little with PSA 10 Prizm rookies dropping to $305 from $335-$350. I’m buying the hype that Dak is done for in the hobby for a bit. He’s now at the point that the best argument for him is that he has ‘Matthew Stafford-upside’. Not bad on the field, but pretty dismal in the hobby.
Week 1 wasn’t the flashiest and it still had amazing viewership. Football is alive and well and collectors are going to keep overreacting each weekend until the Super Bowl. What Week 1 performances have you seeking out cards? Which ones have you listing them as fast as you can? Let me know in the comments.