Contributor: John Dudley
Who’s the most undervalued player in the NFL right now? It’s a big question and a common one. I’m not talking player salaries though; I’m talking card values. Everyone has ‘their guy’ stashed away just waiting for the moment that the rest of the hobby world catches on. Tackling a question this big without writing an answer that’s 100 pages long needs some guidelines to limit the discussion.
First, a few ground rules. No unproven players on this list. To be truly undervalued, one has to have already demonstrated a high level of competency. For that reason, I’m only considering players with a Pro Bowl appearance and at least two full years in the league. That’s a low threshold but eliminates many of the hobby’s biggest names. I find most initial value from draft hype takes about two years to completely vanish so there’s another solid reason for this one.
Second, I’m looking for long-term value. There are some players I think could see great movement in the short-term like Saquon Barkley, but I’m not sold at all on his long-term prospects. This list is looking for long-term growth though and not the quick flip.
Third, one of the biggest categories of undervalued players in the NFL are players at the tail-end of their careers who are just hanging on (J.J. Watt). That said, I’m focusing more on players in their prime, or close to it, but these veterans have great potential as well. I’ve included an underappreciated veteran as an honorable mention at the top of each segment.
Finally, I’m only comparing players to other players from their position. Heck, all players are undervalued compared to QBs, but everyone already knows that. I want to find the most undervalued player at each position so no comparing Cooper Kupp’s values to Tom Brady here.
The Candidates: Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill
Underappreciated Vet: Matthew Stafford
Surprisingly, the QB category is the least interesting to me. Russell Wilson jumps off the page as a Super Bowl-winning QB that has nine Pro Bowl appearances already. He is among the active top 10 rushers in all of football. Even if Wilson retired today, his bust in Canton is all but guaranteed.
Wilson’s PSA 10 2011 Topps Chrome rookie sells for $250 currently. Compare that to the injured Dak Prescott and his one postseason win who has a PSA 10 Prizm rookie going for $280 presently. Wilson clearly should be valued lower than Brady and Rodgers, but I’m hard-pressed to come up with a QB that I’m sure will have a better career than Wilson.
The Candidates: Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliot, Jonathan Taylor
I like Jonathan Taylor but think his pricing has caught up to his performance. His PSA 10 2020 Prizm rookie was selling for more than Tua’s just a couple of weeks ago. Nick Chubb on the other hand is simply not respected in the hobby. Chubb is a rarity amongst modern running backs in that he consistently piles up solid statistics. As Chubb keeps racking up numbers and Pro Bowls, his HOF chances improve.
If Chubb can put together an MVP-caliber season instead of just a top-tier RB season, then collectors might realize that he’s quietly been producing in Cleveland. His cards have spiked since the start of the season with PSA 10 Prizm rookies up to $60-$70 from $40. Even at the higher prices, Chubb is undervalued for a guy that could wind up being the most productive back of his generation.
Underappreciated Vet: None
The Candidates: Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans, Keenan Allen
Underappreciated Vet: Julio Jones
Diggs vs. Evans was the hardest choice for me on this entire list for me. Ultimately, I went with Diggs. Really, I think WRs as a whole are undervalued both in the hobby and in the HOF. Diggs is set to post strong career numbers. It is his potential to have a Cooper Kupp like season that set him above Evans. Diggs is poised to continue his ascension up the NFL’s star rankings and should have another strong season.
Diggs’ Prizm RC in PSA 10 grade sells for between $40 and $60. Given his potential in the Bills’ offense, I would not be shocked to see that trading for twice that at the end of the season.
The Candidates: Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Darren Waller
Underappreciated Vet: Rob Gronkowski (I know he’s ‘retired’)
I actually think both are valued fairly. Forced to pick by my own rules though, I’m choosing George Kittle due to potential, but there’s nothing to me that says his cards are undervalued. The real play here to me is Gronkowski.
The Candidates: Jalen Ramsey, Khalil Mack
Underappreciated Vet: J.J. Watt, Von Miller
There are a few other strong defensive candidates, but these two stand out as exemplars of their craft. I love both, but Jalen Ramsey has auto rookies that sell for as low as $20. The big issue with him is that he does not produce many of the stats (Sacks, Interceptions) that it takes for collectors to notice defensive players.
Ramsey is a recognizable name though and has the potential to grab the spotlight even without putting up sacks or interceptions. He’s well on his way to a HOF career though and could end up with a Troy Polamalu-like following. Polamalu’s Contenders Autos go for over $500 regularly. Ramsey might not get to that level, but that still leaves a LOT of room for growth for Ransey whose Contenders Auto goes for $50-$75.
Who do you think is the most undervalued in each position group in the NFL? Let me know in the comments. I’m putting a pin in this one and hope to revisit it at the end of the year to see if there has been any movement.