2010 Elite Auto Leaderboard

Now that Elite has been out for about a week, I always find it interesting to find out who has the top autos and what they are going for. I have a feeling that this is the way things will shake out until the season starts, which says a lot about who the collectors think will have the most success. As I have commented on before, a player’s college may still have residual effects on value until they become more engrained with their current team, however, at this point, NFL team makes just as much difference.

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1. Tim Tebow /199 – $120-$125: No matter how much I shout from the mountain tops that Tebow’s college career means nothing in the NFL, people will still bank on him. I have never seen a middle of the first round QB outsell the QB picked number one before the season starts, but then again, “with Tebow anything is possible.” Saw that on a bumper sticker today, in TEXAS, next to a jesus fish. NOT KIDDING.
2. Sam Bradford /199 – $90-$95: Bradford is the #1 pick and really has every right to command a top value of the class. However, once he gets behind the Rams TERRIBLE offensive line that is in complete shambles, value will drop considerably.
3. Dez Bryant /249 – $70-$75: Bryant has Cowboys on his side, and also a ridiculous amount of talent. He is in a place where there hasnt been a good receiver not named Austin or Owens, and that will help tremendously. Value should stay right where it is.
4. (Tie) CJ Spiller /199 – $65-$70: Spiller was drafted as the top RB and he is getting that value wise too. However, in Buffalo, he isnt playing for as good of a team as Mathews, and Mathews seems to be primed for a ROY season behind a good line. However, RBs are always a wild card when it comes to production.
4. (Tie) Ryan Mathews /199 – $65 – $70: Ryan Mathews is a target of mine because I think San Diego is a great place for a rookie running back to thrive. Right now, he is my prediction for ROY, unless Spiller or Bryant finds a way to be as awesome as they can be.
6. Jimmy Clausen /249 – $60-65: I think Clausen will turn out to be the best QB of the class because he plays on the best team. Matt Moore is not the answer, and Clausen looked to be most pro-ready heading into the draft.
7. Ndamukong Suh /399 – $45-$50: Suh is one of the best Defensive prospects of the last decade, and could possibly be a perennial powerhouse in Detroit. However, its still Detroit, and that is a problem until the team gets a lot better.
8. Jahvid Best /249 – $35 – $40: With Kevin Smith out and recovering from a debilitating knee injury, Best will be the starter. However, as with his previously mentioned teammate, the Lions are terrible enough to bring down his prospects of gain.
9. Golden Tate /249 – $30-$35: Tate was a great player in college, and he is looking to take over the number 2 spot in a barren wasteland of offense in Seattle. He is a great looking talent, but receivers can easily go the Harvin way or they can go the Limas Sweed way.
10. Toby Gerhart /299<
img src="http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=4&pub=5574773276&toolid=10001&campid=5336520001&customid=&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]" /> – $25-$30: Gerhart is a Viking RB, and when you put those two words together, you get value attached to the player. He is going to be taking Chester Taylor’s vacated 3rd Down role, and hopefully he excels for us. However, with the addition of Ryan Moats to the backfield, its a good chance he may get reduced carries and touches off the bat. That’s bad for business.
Honorable mentions: Dexter McCluster, Armanti Edwards, Arrelious Benn, Gerald McCoy
With this class being more of a defense focused bunch, there is a good chance this is not a good year for buying a lot of wax, but with people like Tebow and Bradford, who knows. Tebow isnt going to play possibly at all the first season, and Bradford should have a terrible beginning to his career. That will be left up to players like Bryant, Spiller and Mathews to pick up the slack. I am hoping that at the very least, there will be good products to match the need for wax buyers, but with a lack of Ultimate, SPA, and Exquisite, there is definitely going to be issues on that front. Maybe Chrome and Limited will perform well enough that it wont matter.

Think Twice Before Throwing Your Money Away

have always stood by the fact that investing early in the top QBs of the class is a terrible idea. Although many of them have the talent to be good QBs, the teams they usually go to are horrible for promoting growth in a young player that starts from Day 1. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in most cases, they fail quite hard until later in their career.

The main factors that should go into your decision of whether or not to buy usually rests with the team the guy plays for. In the case of Matthew Stafford, I advised to stay far away because of the team he played for. The offensive line was in shambles, the running game still need to prove its worth, and Calvin Johnson was all they had to help Stafford out. Sure enough, Stafford got banged around and ended up missing six games due to injury. In the case of Mark Sanchez, the Jets were in a MUCH different situation, and it showed. Although I didn’t think pumping dollars into Sanchez was a good idea either, at least he had better prospects of doing well off the bat.

In 2008, the situation was very similar to 2009 with Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. Matt Ryan was coming back to a Falcons team that had pieces in place, but no one to lead. Flacco had a super bowl contender in Baltimore, having been drafted late in the first round. Because the Falcons and Ravens had better teams to complement the talent of the QBs, they did much better than expected.

This year, there are quite a few players that are already tickling the collective nutsacks of prospectors looking to burn a few bucks. The top guy should be Sam Bradford, likely going to the Rams after a DISASTEROUS 2009 season. Bradford has size and talent, and is expected to be a good quarterback. The Rams’ lack of success could be as much attributed to injuries as anything, as many of their starters spent the year on the pine. Does this mean he is worth throwing a ton of money at when the products are released? Fuck no. Bradford is not going to have the year that Ryan had, and probably wont even have the underperforming year that Sanchez had on a playoff team. The Rams will go 3-13 at best, and that’s if Steven Jackson stays healthy. On the other hand, the Rams do have some talent that is building up to be good players. Jason Smith had a below average year, but is showing promise. Same with Donnie Avery and some of the other pieces of the Rams offense. This may help Bradford in the long run, but will limit his immediate potential.

As for Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow, it is likely that they will have a similar experience. Clausen may end up in Washington at number 4 or Cleveland at number 7, with both teams being terrible in their offensive prowess. McCoy may end up as a 2nd round pick, as will Tebow, and both should spend their first years on the bench. In McCoy’s case, injuries likely put him out of the first round to begin with, though he has the talent to be a great QB. Tebow, well, if you throw money at his cards, you might as well burn that cash instead. As evidenced by his pro day film, he still has major problems with the exact issues he had before and may even end up as a Wildcat QB/TE when all is said and done. With the Wildcat becoming more of a tolerated offense, he is likely to spend more time on the bench than on the field during his career.

People may cite the success of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Tony Romo as reasons to get in on the ground floor, but I disagree. Prospecting has become so commonplace in football that prices are high from the beginning. In fact, the price Matt Ryan commanded originally didn’t grow THAT much over the course of his successful first season. Paying an extra 20-30 bucks, shouldn’t be that big of a deal once the guy proves his worth to his team.

Basically, your best targets will always be WRs and RBs. Top WRs are usually on the field from day one, with many being productive from the get go. Backs are the same, especially with 99% of the teams using a two back system. They command the value that they do because of that early production, though only the running backs will carry it on consistently. Funny enough, this year is so loaded with defensive talent, there could be a starvation rule in effect, with many collectors wondering what direction to go. It should be interesting to see where things end up.

Dont Bet These Ponies Just Yet…

Coming up this week, we are going to get our first taste of the rookies in their NFL uniforms. Usually this is a big week for me, as I am not a college collector in any way. Yet, as I look around, I see the value drastically skewed in favor of people prospecting on the rookie QBs, despite not knowing whether or not their college resumes will translate to Sundays.

Last year was a fluke. Im going to say that more so than anything else I will say in this post. Ryan put up great numbers with an okay team, and made them better. Flacco put up okay numbers on a great team and basically didn’t fuck things up enough for them to falter. This never happens with two rookie QBs doing great with their teams, in fact, it really hasn’t happened since Roethlisberger did great with the Steelers in his rookie year. Most of the time, though its becoming less common, the QBs will sit for a year to brush up on their league knowledge, or to give the existing starter a chance to set the table. Funny enough, even Peyton Manning had some ridiculously awful first few years, and his bad team was better than Stafford’s.

So, before you go out and buy handfuls of Stafford, Sanchez, and Freeman cards, you should realize that this will probably be the peak of their value for the next year, if not ever. Prospecting is all about buying low and selling high, so there is zero reason to “invest” now, especially when these guys are not exemplary college QBs. Stafford wouldn’t have been the #1 pick if Bradford and Tebow had decided to come out, and Sanchez declared for the draft for that very reason. Freeman was just a Flacco style risk for the Bucs, though he looks like he has the tools to be good. The question still remains, even with all of this, even if you are a huge Georgia, SC, or KSU fan, why are people buying now?

Im guessing that Stafford has the height because he was a highly publicized number one pick from the worst team in NFL history. However, he will have that team to deal with when he comes to play. He is going to have many more interceptions than TDs, because the Lions just arent that good. The offensive line was as bad as you could get last year, and that hasn’t changed all that much. Stafford will be on his back more than Paris Hilton in front of a camera, and I am not kidding. For a rookie QB, this causes bad mistakes and even worse confidence issues. Ryan was different because his team had more pieces than the Lions do, but also because he had a few targets to play with, in addition to a great running back. It helps when you have someone to take the pressure off when you need it. Stafford wont have that.

At this point in the year, its better to invest in later round guys that could be standouts once the pre-season rolls around. They will have very small prices for cards that are numbered pretty high, and buying now at nothing and then selling later at something is much better than paying astronomical prices for Stafford and Sanchez and holding them through long droughts of low prices. If you must buy, wait until week 8 when it sets in that these guys arent living up to the amazing seasons that Ryan and Roethlisberger had. You can buy their cards for half the price they are now, and all you have to have is a little fucking patience.

Though all the JCs on eBay are pooping themselves each time a new Stafford card is released, they probably don’t have the smarts to realize what is going on. They are pretty much bidding against themselves, while all the smart people sit back and laugh. Take this as your hint to sell while prices are high, right JaMarcus Russell?

You may be asking what I will say if one or both of these guys end up with stellar first seasons? I will congratulate them for beating the odds, and extend my willingness to take an “I told you so” those people who took those odds to the bank. I am willing to do this because the feat is so rare. My prospect-wang may be small, but im not stupid.