Looking for the Next Hobby QB1

2023 QB Kenny Pickett

Contributor: John Dudley

It’s time to start thinking about the NFL. The draft is coming up and we’ve just had a blockbuster trade. I’ll definitely wax poetic about the hobby future of the 2023 draftees, but for now, I am interested in seeing if I can figure out which quarterbacks will have breakout seasons.

Each year one or more QBs outperform expectations and their card prices increase. More than any other player in the hobby, a few good games can cause seriously massive gains. That means it pays to be in early on the right guys. Here are six I think have a shotnext year.

The Obvious Guys

Kenny Pickett– Pickett’s been given the keys to one of the more visible QB jobs in the league. He’s poised to be the breakout guy after a solid, if unspectacular, rookie season. As a STeelers quarterback, he can rise up the hobby ranks just by being in the top half of the league performance-wise. That seems doable.

He might be too obvious to be a good hobby value. Practically, every fantasy football outlet has him as one of the top guys to nab this year. In a normal year, Pickett’s cards would start the year overpriced due to this amount of hype. This is not a normal year though. This is the year after the football market cratered. His Silver Prizm RC is available for $70 which seems reasonable if not too cheap. This means that just a solid performance should be sufficient to boost his prices. The bar is lower this year due to the softness of the overall market. 

Justin Fields– I’m in on him in fantasy and completely out on him in the hobby. He can run, we know that. The question is, and it is no secret, is can he throw? Yes, there are clips of some absolutely stunning throws, but he has not shown that he can deliver great, or even standard, throws consistently, especially over the middle. Fields did show improvement in his passing game down the stretch so he’s in no way as one-dimensional as many make him out to be though. I’ll be watching the first few games of the season to see if his passing ability has gone up a level.

While Pickett’s prices feel low, Fields’ seem high. I’d argue his best-case scenario would be to perform like a young Russell Wilson. Wilson’s Topps Chrome RC is selling for barely over Fields’ PSA 10 Prizm RC ($90). Before Chicago fans become apoplectic, Wilson is a Super Bowl-winning QB who is on his way to Canton and people forget how good he was in his first few seasons. That’s not a bad ceiling to have. I just worry there is too much hype propping up Fields’ prices and Chicago has a history of sucking people in and letting them down.

Looking Deeper

Russell Wilson– It is strange to call a future-HOF player a breakout candidate, but Wilson was so bad last year that most have written him off. The moniker “system quarterback” got thrown around a lot after Wilson looked washed up in Denver. Perhaps, Hackett’s system in Denver was the problem and not the QB. After Hackett got fired, Wilson started to look like his old self. Enter Sean Payton. He’s adept at putting players in a position to succeed, especially quarterbacks. If Wilson is a system quarterback, you can bet Payton will give him a system that works.  

Wilson’s Topps Chrome RC in PSA 10 grade is down to just a touch over $100 ($110). That’s quite a drop from its high of around $900. I don’t think it will get close to those highs again, but I can see it easily performing well during the season and I think we are close to the floor even if Wilson struggles. 

Trey Lance– I’m not sold on Lance, but if you think Brock Purdy succeeded due to an easy situation, maybe lightning can strike twice. There are question marks surrounding Lance though. First, he hasn’t played much. Second, there are Tom Brady rumors and all sorts of trade rumors dealing with Lance. San Francisco is in win-now mode and not just waiting for the return of Purdy and if Lance doesn’t look capable, I’d expect them to be aggressive in moving him.

Lance’s Prizm RC in PSA 10 grade can be had for around $40. If, and it is a big if, he can solidify his place as the 2023 starter, he’ll be in a great position to play well and send that card back up. As with Wilson, I don’t see it getting close to its record highs ($400!), but the price is right if you want to take a gamble on a 2021 breakout QB. 

Looking Really Deep

Jordan Love- Love went into witness protection three years ago and has been living in Wyoming as Ronald Simpkins, or at least he might as well have been. Instead, he had the cushiest job in all sports as the backup to a guy who rarely misses games. Now, he is the ultimate wild card in the 2023 season.

I have no clue, and I don’t think anyone outside of the Packers organization does either, as to Love’s potential. His PSA 10 Prizm RC is at $60 which seems fair, but I wouldn’t be shocked if this card doubles in price or is halved in price by the fourth week of the season. He’s a coin flip until we start seeing him on the field, but with his pricing and with the Packers’ QB mystique, he might be worth a coin worth tossing a few times. 

Sam Howell- Howell’s got three things I love: low expectations, little competition for the starting job, and Terry McLaurin. McLaurin is a top-flight WR that any QB would love to have as their primary target. The Commanders shelled out for him even when they were in a rebuilding mode and I think it was a great move. He’s made mediocre QBs look competent.

Really, the main reason to like Howell is that he has little expectations on him. It won’t take much to move the needle on his cards. You can pick up a Silver Prizm RC for $20 and quite a few decent cards of his for the price of a Starbucks coffee. He’s exactly the kind of low-cost guy you look for when trying to hit it big. That said, his attractiveness from a hobby standpoint all comes from his situation and not necessarily his talent which is more debatable. If you believe though, he might be worth a flyer.

Wrap Up

Those are the six I am looking at. I’m also very curious about the rookies but I’ll tackle that when their situations become clearer in a few of weeks. Who do you like for the upcoming season? It seems like a ways off but it will be here sooner than you think. Also, if you haven’t checked out the insanely useful Card Shop Live app, what are you waiting for? It’s great for breaks, personal rips, singles, and hobby info. The breakers are all heavily vetted so no shenanigans here.

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