Today’s hobby is less about comparative value as it is about who is hot at any given moment. Even if a player has little potential to be a superstar, its likely that a singular great performance or top performance over a short period of time, will provide the biggest bump in value. Its actually pretty insane when you think about it, especially considering that for many of the players in the league, you can buy the best ever at the position for substantially less money. That being said, here is my list of higher end cards that are on my list of must own at this moment, if not only because the players are doing some incredible things. My list of lower end cards will come later today.
2005 Aaron Rodgers SP Authentic Auto Patch
Its hard to find a guy who has played as consistently at the elite level over the last 3 years as Rodgers. Sure Manning and Brady have all played well too, but Rodgers is ahead of them in many ways. During that time frame, he has won an MVP and a Super Bowl, and I doubt either will be his last. His autograph has been exceedingly rare, due to factors surrounding his availability to sign, and now that he is maybe the best player in the league overall, the demand is palpable. I have started to see his 2012 Five Star cards show up to collectors over the last few weeks, and honestly they could not have come at a better time. When you look at his best cards to have, its a toss up between his 2005 Exquisite Auto Dual Patch /99 and his 2005 SP Authentic of the same variety. Both are crazy rare, but I like the look of the SPA more than the exquisite. Its also a tougher pull, as many of the auto patch cards from that year are out of a couple hundred. His is out of 99 only. Even more ridiculous is the price tag on the 1/1 NFL logo, which might be his best card ever produced. If I had a million dollars, Id buy a few of these.
2012 Russell Wilson Contenders Rookie Ticket Auto
You are probably wondering why I am adding this card when the National Treasures should be his best. The issue is that Panini cant get Wilson to sign his cards, even though both Topps and Upper Deck have done so without a problem. This rookie ticket auto not only has a great look to it with the 1998 throwback design, but it might be the highest value card that actually gets made for Wilson. His play is quickly becoming elite in a QB driven league, and when you hear him speak about the game, its obvious he is on a cerebral level close to what we see with guys like Brees and Manning. He is a great player on a great team that should have a great season. A recipe for success no doubt.
2012 Andrew Luck National Treasures Auto Patch /99
Even though I hate the design, and think that Five Star is far superior in quality and look, this is the card to own. Luck has played well so far this year, and its looking more and more like he is going to be a top quarterback in the league. Although he was recently outplayed by Ryan Tannehill by all intents and purposes, he is still a guy with an incredibly bright future. Like I was saying before, there is no comparative value standards in this hobby any more, and I cant understand why people would pay over a thousand dollars for this card when you can have Brady’s ticket auto or Manning for a similar price. At best Luck will forever be chasing the records put on the books by both, and yet, his card is worth more. Im not saying he isnt worth the place he has earned, but man its tough to say he should be worth more than the other accomplished veterans.
2007 Adrian Peterson Exquisite Auto Patch /99
I have posted before on how the running backs are slowly becoming the third rung on the value ladder in the NFL, and there is only one guy currently playing who can say he is a mold breaker. Peterson recently became the third running back in history to rush for 9000 yards at this point in his career, and he has no signs of slowing down. Its also clear that he will continue to carry the brunt of the Minnesota production on offense thanks to a QB that cant play, which means for the next three years, he will likely continue to be the best RB in the league. He is one of only a handful of RBs to win MVP in the last few decades, and for the sake of my massive collection, I hope he eventually becomes a hall of famer. He has a lot of great cards to chase, but the Exquisite auto patch remains the best. It is the most valuable RB rookie card of all time, and if you can find one that doesnt have a fake patch, its not a bad card to use as your collection centerpiece. I hate the player picture on it, but its undeniable that every Vikings fan thinks this card is at the top of the mountain.
2007 Calvin Johnson Exquisite Auto Patch /99
Its funny that two rookies from this class are on the list, because they are literally the only two people from the year that have value. Not only that, but both are the best at their positions to boot. Although Megatron broke the receiving yards record last year, he had a down year for TD production in a time when the Lions were throwing the ball more than any other team ever has. This year, he is off to a torrid pace and showing everyone why remains the best there is at WR. His Exquisites without fake patches are tough to find these days, but they are incredibly nice cards, and might be the most expensive WR rookie cards ever produced. He hasnt signed many cards since 2007 as you can see, and that only makes these more valuable. I would expect he ends up as one of the best ever to play the game, and that is saying something from a player that was drafted by Matt Millen.
2011 Colin Kaepernick Topps Chrome Auto
Although the National Treasures patch auto is worth more, this card is chased more frequently. I absolutely love the design for 2011 Topps Chrome, and the giant space for autographs makes this an incredibly appealing card. To think that a card worth this much came from a box that started at less than 80 dollars per, is nuts. The BGS graded versions sell for crazy amounts of money, and to think, I sold mine for 50 bucks and thought I was getting a deal and a half. The Superfractor Auto version is going to be the most expensive Kaepernick card produced, selling for more money than I would have ever guessed. This version is worth the attention of those of us who cant afford the price of a small car for a football card. He may have had a stinker of a performance against Seattle on national TV, but Im curious to find out how much of it is due to the crowd instead of ability. That place is like playing football next to a jet engine, and he played terrible. For someone with his experience, I didnt expect much. He will still be a great player and that should be his worst game of the year. We will see what happens when they get a rematch in San Francisco.
1998 Peyton Manning Playoff Contenders Auto Ticket
Last but not least, I have to put Peyton on this list. Manning’s Broncos are 2-0 after winning games against two good teams, and both times he played extremely well. Although he only has one ring, his list of accomplishments is long as it is impressive. Multiple MVPs, multiple playoff wins, records galore. It goes on and on. This card is so iconic that it inspired Panini to reuse the design for the 20th anniversary of the set, and its all thanks to Manning. I posted a few days ago that he should have more value, but this card already has a ton. Because the pens used to sign the cards werent what they are today, the signatures dont look as good now almost 15 years later. If you can find a graded version with a bold signature, consider yourself lucky.
There are other cards that could be on this list no doubt, but to me, this is what I would want if I had unlimited funds to spend on current players who are out kicking their coverage. Its easy to say that there are cards like the Brady contenders ticket auto or vintage examples, but this list is for the hot players today. Interested to see what you guys would do.