2014 NFL Playoffs: Underrated Players Continue to Shine

Here is the thing about the playoffs. Everyone automatically receives a ton of value just for playing well. So, with that, there are a lot of underrated players in value that will be worth taking a look even after being eliminated. The post season just does a lot of weird things to people’s perception of what they should buy. Here are some of my top guys.

Demarco Murray

There is no more underrated hobby player right now than him, if not only because he plays for a widely collected team and is the best at his position. Scary to think that the RB position is so dead that there is this much of a gap. QBs who play even remotely well get enormous value as long as they have a good public image or fame. Murray gets none of this. Tony Romo goes through a lot of the same issues because of his reputation, which is similarly odd. Even though the Cowboys were eliminated, Murray had a great game, and should get a lot more consideration.

2013 Elite Passing the Torch Demarco Murray / Emmitt Smith Dual Auto

2011 Topps Five Star DeMarco Murray Auto RC

2011 National Treasures DeMarco Murray Auto Patch Logo /49

TY Hilton

More non-QBs getting killed on the open market because collectors dont care. Hilton put up some monster games this year, including some on national TV, and still has no one that will pay anything for his cards. Its really starting to surprise me, as he is easily the only other Colts player worth collecting right now.

2012 National Treasures TY Hilton Auto RC

2012 Topps Strata TY Hilton Auto Clear Cut Relic

2012 Topps Five Star TY Hilton Auto RC

Joe Flacco

For a QB that won a ring, he is beyond underrated. The issue is that he might have one of the most vanilla personas of all the top QBs in the league, which is why no one cares to buy his cards. He played very well, despite late picks, and very few people that even thought twice of considering him among even the better players available to collect. Beware with everything Flacco, as 2008 was the year that had the most issues with fake patches.

2008 Upper Deck Exquisite Joe Flacco Auto Patch RC

2014 Flawless Joe Flacco Auto Jumbo PAtch

2008 Upper Deck SP Authentic Joe Flacco Auto Rookie Patch

Demaryius Thomas

I am continually baffled by how few people collect receivers, as said above, as they are usually some of the more dynamic players on the field. Demaryius Thomas is a TOP reciever and plays for a top team, but still loses hobby value because he isnt Dez Bryant and isnt a QB. I think he deserves more credit.

2010 Panini Contenders Demaryius Thomas Auto TIcket BGS 9.5

2014 Absolute Demaryius Thomas Auto Relic Tools of the Trade

2010 Topps Five Star Demaryius Thomas Auto Rookie Patch

CJ Anderson

I think that there hasnt been many players that have played the way he has coming down the stretch. He is either first or tied for first in just about every category that matters. He really should have more value as he could be one of the top RBs left in the playoffs come the end of today.

2013 National Treasures CJ Anderson Auto RC /49

2013 Contenders CJ Anderson Auto Ticket RC

2013 Black CJ Anderson Auto RC Base

As the playoffs continue, especially as we get closer to the Super Bowl, many more things will change. Only goes to show how important these games really are.

On the Radar: 2014 Panini Black Gold Football

When Panini comes out with a sell sheet for a new product that has never been done before, I automatically prepare myself for some top notch card design humor. The skill that Panini has displayed to design and execute a new product is about at the level of a toddler learning to walk with falling over. Its painful to watch, but still pretty freaking funny when they stumble and fall over. This is one of the main reasons why I think I am so frustrated with the new NFL exclusive, as it is clear they will have to create new brands on a regular basis.

Black gold looks to be an homage to both Panini Black (A complete and utter failure of a product), and Gold Standard (A complete and utter failure of a product). Like me, I bet you are wondering how a combination of this sort could this go anything but hilariously wrong. Well, like me, you are in for a treat, because it is all of that and more.

Feast your eyes on the shitty products that this set is based on:

2011 Gold Standard Demarco Murray Patch Auto – I have no words for how bad this design is.

2011 Gold Standard Bart Starr Auto Gold Leaf Relic – yes Panini thought adding swatches of gold leaf was going to make their cards maintain value. They were wrong.

2013 Panini Black Eddie Lacy Auto RC 1/1 – Wow, so fierce in its ugliness.

2012 Panini Black Andrew Luck Auto Patch RC – Some high quality paint marker work right there!

My favorite card in this whole preview is the Blake Bortles quad patch card, that features one of the most comically awkward photos I have ever seen on a trading card. That is saying a lot, considering Panini's affinity for awkward pictures. For whatever reason, Panini still thinks it is a good idea to use studio based photos on their cards instead of action shots, and this is about as goofy looking as it can be. Blake looks like he is ready to scold his new puppy for pissing on the rug, or have a serious talk with a buddy who has shown that he likes to drink a little too much. Hell, you could argue that he is about to sit his grandkids down for a story time about the game where he threw three picks against Indianapolis. Each potential caption almost writes itself. The fact that Panini believes that this type of photography creates a desire to want to collect a card, shows that we should all be fucking scared shitless that they are about to take over the NFL license.

Now, the silhouette cards with acetate signatures are really cool looking – and I am being serious about that. They have a history of doing these types of cards the right way. However, these cards are 1/1s and don’t look to be prominently featured in the product. The cards that will be everywhere in Black gold seem to be the normal hideous turd blossoms that usually bloom in Panini products. This include cards like the Andrew Luck which feature an ugly giant box for the signature similar to immaculate baseball. Yes, those cards were so successful at being horrendous, that they decided to bring them over to Football. Why not, right? Panini thinks collectors wont mind.

Other cards like the Teddy Bridgewater jumbo patch auto (which should OBVIOUSLY be a horizontal presentation) and the Aaron Rodgers (which features the trademark separated signature area), are straight out of the Panini Rogue’s Gallery of Card Design Failure, and we should all be ready and waiting to receive this foul fart of a product as a result.

Bottom line, people, we are going to have a rough 10 years when Panini takes the helm, so have your airsick bag at your side when getting ready to look at the unveiling we are due to experience soon.

Check out the damage:

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Contenders Football

In my opinion, Contenders is one of the products that is LEAST deserving of the brand equity it has delivered on a yearly basis. To me, it seems as though the legacy this product has built stems not from good looking designs or innovative approaches, but the fact that it was one of the first products to truly use rookie autographs as its cornerstone. Not only is that bullshit in today’s day and age, but the continued lack of attention to the look and feel of the product is staggering.

Here is what 2014’s foray into Contenders looks like:

2014 Contenders Odell Beckham Variation Playoff Ticket Auto

2014 Contenders Odell Beckham Rookie Ink Auto

2014 Contenders Blake Bortles Rookie Ticket Auto

2014 Contenders Kelvin Benjamin Rookie Ticket Auto

2014 Contenders Johnny Manziel Rookie Ticket Auto

2014 Contenders Teddy Bridgewater Rookie Ticket Auto

2014 Contenders Jeremy Hill Rookie Ticket Auto

For some god forsaken reason, Contenders has a ton of people that buy it, despite the fact that the design is fucking horrendous more years out of the run than it is good looking. It has had its moments, but so many times, the fabled Panini “design team” (in quotes for a reason) has marred the face of the set in the worst possible way. Yet, because it was the first of many thousands of products that have put out autograph based sets, collectors give it a pass on its brutal approach.

This type of concept extends into 2014 with another year of lacking design performance, as CLEAR mistakes were made in who chose what design for which subset, and the addition of a myriad of unneeded variations and parallels to extend a print run. It doesnt help that one of these variations is a fucking goofy studio shot, something I cannot see why Panini is so obsessed with. Adding in that the Parallel structure was changed to accomodate a bloated print run, and all of a sudden there are new reasons why Contenders is a horrible excuse for a product.

My main gripe is that Panini had a nice TICKET based design in the Rookie Ink subset. Make that the ticket design for 2014 and it changes much of the outlook of the set. Sure, there are still the other issues at bay, but those become more tolerated with a good ticket design. It baffles me how this happened, where the obvious ticket is used for a minor subset, and the design that should have been the Rookie Ink is used for the ticket. Someone at Panini is running around with blinders on, and that blindfold angers me to no end.

Add in that someone decided that throwing in points cards was a good idea, despite the fact that the reaction to pulling one requires a barf bag near by. Nothing says “I could give a flying fuck about this product” than adding points cards, and Contenders should have been taken more seriously. Collectors are saying that its “added content” but that is crap. Points cards cost as much to create as those kid reporter cards, and they are worth about that much in tow. Its a cheap way to extend out a print run while providing zero extra value to anyone who gets that in their box.

Putting that issue aside, I just cant get over this horrible design. Im also convinced that no card at Panini can be created without checking off most of the following boxes:

  • Separated defined space for the autograph (cordoned off from the rest of the design)
  • Giant product logo
  • Giant text
  • Goofy ass studio shot picture
  • “Dad Joke” play on words subset name

Its literally nauseating to think that these assholes are going to likely take over the entire licensed card area eventually, and that should be fucking scary for everyone. They have more money than they know what to do with, and they are acting like that guy at the gym who lifts enormous weights in a public area and laughs at the weaklings next to him. “DO YOU EVEN LIFT BRO?” That’s Panini. They can bully their way around because italy has given them a blank check, even though they have done NOTHING to deserve that in sales performance. They dont care what things look like, how they are done, or who gets the screw job at the end (most of the time its us and the local card shop).

 

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Leaf Q

There are people out there who wont buy cards that dont have logos on them. I am not one of those people, AS LONG as the cards look good. That’s really all that matters to me, as design is my prime driver of value in terms of what I like. Leaf released its first home grown SUPER high end product this week in "Q", which is venturing into some foreign territory for a set of this nature. Regardless of risk, most of these cards are some damn fine examples of the way to do unlicensed cards.

Check out some of these cards:

2014 Leaf Q Joe Montana Jumbo Patch Auto

2014 Leaf Q David Robinson Jumbo Logo Patch Auto

2014 Leaf Q Frank Thomas Jumbo Bat Piece Auto

2014 Leaf Q Pele Pure Glass Auto Plexiglass

2014 Leaf Q Hulk Hogan Auto

The strongest point of Q other than the design is the diversity of the checklist, as they have all sports, plus a few other celebrities that fit within the constructs of the brand. Although all the pictures are retouched, this feels more like an Exquisite level product than anything.

It does have some very awkward moments, dont get me wrong, as some of the cards needed printing plate adjustments and never got them. These cards are relatively few and far between, as it is clear that that the overall set is really fucking impressive.

I am not a huge fan of the cross brand pollination of the Glass cards, as these are usually reserved for the Trinity products that Leaf has done so well. However, the cards are cool enough that I guess I will have to make an exception here. The Al Bundy card is worth the price of admission all on its own.

Even the shoe cards improve on the horrendous showing that Upper Deck had with Exquisite basketball, as they are actually game used and hard signed to boot. They look great, and makes the “Foot Locker Bought” examples from UD look foolish.

Here is the main point of this set, that everyone should consider. The price tag IS gargantuan, but I think its relatively the equivalent to buying a few boxes in other ways. Its a lot of cards, and its clear that unlike many high end products these days, its meant for everyone instead of just group breakers who can sell spots.

I gotta give Brian Gray the pat on the back he deserves, as Leaf Q is definitely a testament to what someone can do when they really fight hard for nice content.

NFL Playoffs: Winners and Losers – Wild Card Round

Wow. What a weekend right? Not only were the games exciting to watch, but the level of play from the bigger hobby names was impressive. I think this might have been the first time in a while that I have watched every minute of every game during the wild card round. Usually I just spend my time wallowing in my own Vikings self pity to enjoy it. Here are my winners and losers.

Tony Romo – WINNER

Over the last few years, Romo has put up great numbers, only to see his big game loser reputation peck away at his legacy. After putting up monster numbers for the regular season, Romo started very flat against the teeth of the Lions’ league leading defense. Demarco Murray also didnt have the normal success due to the way they played him, and it looked grim. He turned it around and was able to squeak out a win, mainly due to some calls and the Defense. His values are going to continue to go up as long as they keep winning, and a matchup against Green Bay could put him into the stratosphere with a win. I am genuinely curious what would have happened to his cards if he hadnt botched that snap to lose the playoff game however many years ago. Im guessing things might be different.

Check these out:

2013 National Treasures Tony Romo Jumbo Patch Auto Booklet

2014 Flawless Tony Romo Jumbo Patch Auto

Andy Dalton – LOSER

I almost feel bad for him at this point. Not only was he playing without AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham, but he was going against a Colts team that has some serious firepower in Luck and Hilton. I was shocked that it wasnt more lopsided, but Dalton walks away with another playoff loss. I am of the ilk that thinks he probably doesnt deserve ALL the credit for most of the woes, but he is just not fun to watch.

For a QB with so many playoff seasons, you would expect more:

2013 National Treasures Andy Dalton Inscription Auto

2011 Topps Chrome Andy Dalton Auto RC

2011 Contenders Andy Dalton Auto Ticket RC

Andrew Luck – WINNER

Here is the thing with Luck, as it is clear he has the tools to be a GREAT all time NFL QB. There are definitely times where it isnt pretty, but that happens. He had receivers drop some nice throws, and that hurt a lot. If Hilton had hung onto a few more of the balls he threw, probably would have been a blowout. The throw he made to Moncrief while falling down is seriously impressive though. That is why collectors are all over him – they know he is something special. Curious to see what happens next week when they roll into Denver. The story lines almost write themselves.

Luck is turning into the Hobby’s favorite son:

2012 Topps Chrome Andrew Luck Black Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2014 Contenders Andrew Luck Cracked Ice Auto BGS 9.5

2012 Exquisite Andrew Luck Auto RC /99

Ndamukong Suh – LOSER

After that stupid decision to spike Aaron Rodgers like he did in Week 17, I wanted him to lose. Although he made some nice plays, this definitely was not a game he will want to relive. Suh is going to be a free agent this year, and he definitely wanted more playoff games on a national stage to prove his worth outside of his horrible decision making skills. Collectors are indifferent as a defensive player, but he definitely has a rep.

Defense isnt worth anything, but Suh still gets hobby love:

2010 Exquisite Ndamukong Suh Auto Patch RC

2010 Contenders Ndamukong Suh Rookie Ticket Auto

Joe Flacco – WINNER

We all get that there is this big discussion of whether or not Flacco is one of the ELITE (ugh!) QBs in the NFL. Its seriously a big fucking joke now, and it was only fitting that the Steelers couldnt put it together to beat the Ravens. Not only did he play very well, but he did it on the road against a tough defense. There is no doubt Flacco is good, but collectors dont seem to identify with his vanilla persona. I think a deep run will help him more than ever this year.

Flacco has won a title, but doesnt get the same attention:

2013 Topps Supreme Joe Flacco Auto Patch /10

2008 SP Authentic Joe Flacco Auto Patch RC

Logan Thomas – LOSER

For Lindley to play like he did, and for Thomas to not even get a look for the starting role is pretty nuts. It was almost a referendum on Thomas’ prospects as an NFL QB, and that doesnt bode well for the people holding his cards. Even if he did get one snap, it doesnt matter, sell while he is still in the league.

His cards have already become relatively worthless despite massive prospecting:

2014 Topps Platinum Logan Thomas Auto RC

2014 Topps Finest Logan Thomas Auto Patch RC

I am literally counting the days until we get to see the best teams take the field against the winners from this week, as the matchups are absolutely insane. I mean, the Green Bay / Dallas game might end up being the best playoff game in a while, and that is saying something. Hopefully next week plays out as well as this week did.