Examining Potential 2010 Rookie Targets

Sometimes its tough to pick a target for the year, especially when your team doesn’t have a discernable rookie that will be a huge factor during the season. Last year, I was lucky to be able to chase Percy Harvin on his way to eventually being named rookie of the year, but this year it isnt so cut an dry without a Vikings first round pick. I know that most of you out there are starting to begin your chase for cards, so here is who I would chase and who I would stay away from.

The Top Offensive Picks

Sam Bradford – I wouldn’t touch Sam Bradford right now, as he is not worth the money that some people are paying. He may eventually be a great QB, but the Rams are so terrible, he should end up very much like Stafford. That is, he should end up like Stafford if he gets signed in time. Because he may not start from day one, and because he will most like have a myriad of problems without a good receiving corps, he is a no go.

Tim Tebow – If you buy Tim Tebow right now, you must have a few screws loose. His value is so ridiculous based on his college career, that I don’t even think I would spend someone else’s money on him. In fact, if I go to the rookie premiere events this week, I wont even bother looking for him because there are much better uses for my time. Per early reports he is number 4 on the depth chart, and though Denver wont be able to keep him there for long, he isnt going to play for a long time. If he does end up on the field in the distant future, I am almost positive he will not be effective.

CJ Spiller – Spiller has the biggest opportunity of anyone at the top of the draft, mainly because of how much he will play. The problem is that Buffalo’s offensive line has the effectiveness equal to Marshawn Lynch’s english speaking skills. This will hinder Spiller tremendously, and he will most likely end up more like Laurence Maroney than Maurice Jones-Drew when all is said and done. Watch out.

Dez Bryant – Its tough to deny that Bryant has the skills to be a great receiver, and playing in Dallas sure helps that cause. His prices are astronomical right now, and he easily could live up to them after being surrounded by Romo, Austin, and Williams. I would give him a good shot at the ROY if he can keep his head on straight, but then again, who wants a WR that isnt all about themselves? Their job is to be a ball hawk, so a me-first attitude can help in a lot of situations.

Demaryous Thomas – I have this gut feeling that he will turn out to be this year’s Hey-Bey. He was a big reach over both Benn and Bryant, so Im not sure if I would even waste any time on him. Orton really has a lot of expectations to fufill, which could work in his favor without a true number one in Denver anymore. However, with the additions of him and Eric Decker, they may end up battling for reps if production falters for either one.

Ryan Mathews – This is a guy I would chase, he looks like he is going to have a great situation in San Diego when he gets there. A good QB, a good offensive line, and Darren Sproles. If you are a charger fan, you are happy they picked him, though you are sad that his prices are inflated due to the Peterson effect. Ryan Mathews is a sleeper for ROY, and as time moves on, he should end up being the best RB in the class. That’s my prediction.

Jahvid Best – See CJ Spiller’s predicament, because Best is going to have a similar challenge. The Lions are just a terrible team and their offensive line is not where it needs to be. However, he will have more reps due to Kevin Smith’s injury, but im not sure if it will matter all that much. Its tough to be a good running back when your team has more three and outs than anyone else in the league.

Jimmy Clausen – I like Clausen a lot, and I was pissed when the Vikings passed on him TWICE. He was projected as a top 5 pick, but teams didn’t think it was worth passing on a lot of the amazing defensive talents in the draft. I think Clausen will have the biggest impact of any of the rookie QBs in the first few years, only because Carolina is the best team with a new QB. The Panthers tore it up the last few weeks of the season and I think they will have a better year this year despite losing Julius Peppers. They play in a weaker division than I would expect, and Matt Moore doesn’t look like he is primed for a long run as their QB. Clausen could get on the field this year, and I have a feeling he will be effective as soon as he is handed the reigns.

Colt McCoy – McCoy is more NFL ready than Tebow in my opinion, but like St Louis, the Browns are horrid. He has nobody to throw to even if they let him play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns pick number 1 next year and take a QB again. Stay away from McCoy for that reason.

Sleeper Offensive Players to Watch

Toby Gerhart – As a Vikings player, he will have a huge following. As a Vikings player he will also be limited in his carries and role in the offense. He was selected to replace Chester Taylor, but I think a combination of Percy Harvin and Peterson will fill the role initially. He will get touches, but not a major amount until next year. Gerhart was a beast in college, but lost stock because of a less than stellar 40 time and because he didn’t have a big program on jersey. He may have been second in the Heisman voting, but im not sure what kind of success he will have, especially if Favre retires.

Jonathan Dwyer – Same situation, but in Pittsburgh. Dwyer has Rashard Mendenhall to compete with, and as a later round pick, they don’t have much invested in him. Yet, with all Steelers guys, they always find a way to be good, so don’t count him out. His stuff will probably be cheap, so its not going to be a big investment to buy in.

Eric Decker – I like Decker a lot, and think he can be a good number 2 receiver in the pros. I definitely think he could end up being better than Thomas, but it will all depend on who plays QB. Decker’s stuff wont go for shit, so again, it may be worth it to buy a few cards just because.

Ben Tate – Slaton has fumblitis, and was hurt last year, which means that Tate will get some reps. I mean, look at who they ran with last year. Brown? Cmon. Tate has a lot of upside, but his stuff is high because of where he played in college. I think if he shows initial promise, it’s a good idea to buy in. He plays for a good team with a good line, so he may be this year’s LeSean McCoy.

Golden Tate – WRs always have a shot, but they are never worth very much unless they are named Jerry Rice. Tate will have a great shot in Seattle, mainly because of lack of options not named Houshmanzadeh. Tate showed flashes of brilliance in College and was a projected first rounder. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being Carroll’s number 2.

Ill be doing the normal Rookie Battle Royales again this year with focus on these guys, so check in as we get closer to the season for more updates.

More Details Emerging on the 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

Ive gotten a few emails over the last day or so explaining that there is going to be a very public focus to the rookie premiere this year, mostly centered on spreading word on the hobby. I assume that between now and friday, each company will make an announcement that reveals their event that is open to the public.

Yesterday, Panini announced that they are going to be taking over a Wal Mart in Oxnard, CA with 15 of the players from the premiere. They will be doing pack wars, signing autographs, and im sure giving away lots of prizes. Personally, Ill decide whether or not to make the trip once I figure out the schedule to the event, as well as determine if the baby is going to cooperate at home with my wife, so who knows. I would much rather spend my time at a local shop like previous years rather than a freaking Wal Mart, but I am guessing that they just need the space for all the people that are going to come. Too bad they couldnt find a way to spread the wealth among the shops in the area, because I know a few of them could definitely use the people. Besides, for a company that has spent so much time stroking the nervous necks of the shop owners, they sure did take it in the complete opposite direction.
On Sunday, there is also an event scheduled at Santa Monica High School, which probably is Upper Deck’s thing, though not as many details have been announced. I have an email into Upper Deck for more info, we will see what they say.
That leaves Thursday or Saturday for Topps, but they may also be jumping on with Upper Deck. If you are an autograph hound like myself, I think it may be in your best interest to keep checking back, there are a lot of details yet to be hammered out. This may be your chance to get early autographs of the 2010 Rookies, and you do not want to miss out if you live in or near LA.
Ill keep you updated as my sources update me, maybe ill just pay a reporter who is already going to be there like Beckett will to get my coverage.

Question on Topps Rookie Premiere Autos

Now that Topps is back, I am curious about a few things. Aside from the obvious questions about whether or not sticker autos are going to continue to be the focus of their brands, and whether Triple Threads is finally going to get an overhaul, I want to know if they are going to start a fight against cards like this or this.

Basically, over the last year, Topps rookie premiere autographs have become one of the biggest source of fake autos in the business. In fact, the fakes have become so prevalent, that real ones have become the super-minority in the market. Look at this search – almost every one of these cards is fake. PSA has even started grading the fakes as real! At that point it becomes obvious that very few people have even a clue as to what is happening. When it comes to this type of situation, there is almost no way a buyer can tell the authenticity of the card they are buying without being an expert.
A few months ago, before Topps left and re-entered the market, they promised that every one of the Rookie Premiere autos would now be serially numbered in their sets to prevent fraudulent cards from being sold. It didnt at all help any existing situation, but it was a start. Then when they left the Football market, things were put on the back burner. Now that they are back, I want to know if they are going to hold true to their promise.
See, Rookie Premiere autographs are some of the most quickly produced cards on the market. Although the design is determined months before the rookie premiere in May, the signing and printing of the cards is completed in a matter of hours. First the players arrive and head straight to the Topps photo area the night before Topps’ day at the premiere. After the photos are taken, the pre-designed template is photoshopped over the picture and sent to a local LA printer. There, the cards are printed, cut and sent back to Topps before they hit the field the next morning. The players sign as many of the cards as possible during the station to station schedule, and Topps supposedly then destroys all extras. Obviously, that didnt happen, or we wouldnt have this problem. Now, this is saying that every one of these fake cards is coming straight from Topps back door as we have seen a few times with other sets. It could also be a printer problem, as I could easily see Kevin Burge and his associates paying that local printer to print more cards.
If the previous problem is addressed as Topps had declared, it will be even easier to determine the fakes that dont look like a five year old with pen signed all the cards. Who knows though, we may still have problems if Topps doesnt hold true to their end of the bargain.

Its Fake Season: Do YOU Have Your Hunting License?

I dont know what it is about March, maybe its the spring thaw or the ending of the cabin fever that winter forces in the cold areas of the country, but Fake Season is upon us. Dont get me wrong, every season is technically fake season, but things get kind of crazy in March for some reason. Everywhere I turn, more and more ridiculous fakes are popping up. The difference with most fakes and this one, is that PSA isnt grading them as authentic.

I have covered this maybe a hundred times, and each time I just cant understand how PSA markets themselves as an “Autograph Authority” when it is so easy to slip fakes past the goalie. What makes this instance such a money shot to the face, is that its not one that looks even REMOTELY close to a real one! Who in their right fucking mind would think this was real unless you bought it and got had, or are selling it to make money? Obviously, PSA didnt even bother checking any resource or they would see that this card looks closer to the signature of my 85 year old grandmother than Peterson, Johnson, Lynch or Ginn. What a fucking joke.
Just remember, just because its in a holder, doesnt mean its real. The real ones go for close to a thousand bucks now because the fakes VASTLY outnumber the reals. In fact, im having a tough time trying to find a real one to use on this post. Thats how tough it is to find one that is legit.
Ive also added a new golden rule of Topps:

How Long Before The Scams Look Perfect?

Its been close to six months since the fake rookie premiere autographs have swarmed the net, and I have to admit, its getting a little bit harder to tell which are fake and which are real. PSA has already taken to grading the fakes as real, which means that they A) cannot or will not disqualify a fake B) believe the actual cards to be real and C) dont care because they make money.

Thats not all.
Take a look at some of the Rookie Premieres that have already started popping up on the net. Adrian Peterson, a favorite target of these ass hats, has remained closer to fake than real, but Calvin Johnson is getting more closer to real than fake.
Notice the progression, things arent as obvious anymore. This situation is VERY bad, and it looks to be getting worse. Even the price has dropped considerably because no informed collector is willing to take a chance anymore. These used to sell for hundreds, now they can sell as low as 150.
The lesson is, if the autograph (compared side by side with a certified one) doesnt match up 100%, stay away. Look at tilt of the signature, start and stop points, and pen thickness. Also look at the rest of the sales, if there are a ton that are up, why believe that seller is the one guy who has sold 100 Peterson red inks in the last 30 days. Its just not feasible.
Remember, if you dont watch your own ass on these things, no one is going to do it for you. I am always happy to help with any questions you have.