On the Radar: 2014 Topps Five Star Football

Yesterday was a big day. Not only did we have some pretty sweet MNF games to watch, but we also got a huge preview of 2014 Five Star Football, which is easily the product I spend the most money on each year. Although there has been new on card content added to NT over the last few years, NOTHING touches what Five Star brings to the table in non-rookie autograph content.

For those of us who like good looking cards and hard signed autographs, there is NOT a competition:

2013 Topps Five Star Deion Sanders Auto Inscription /10

2013 Topps Five Star Andrew Luck Auto Patch

2010 Topps Five Star Brett Favre Triple Logo Patch Auto Booklet

2011 Topps Five Star Jerry Rice Auto Inscription /10

2013 Topps Five Star Adrian Peterson Auto Patch

In terms of the actual preview from this year, I think we are going to get some major upgrades to the set, which include some of the best looking cards I have ever seen from this product. After YEARS of pleading with Topps to make single logo autos, it looks like we are finally going to get our wish. I cant tell you how huge that is. This is one area where Treasures has always been more of a chase, although they were stickers until last year.

Secondly, following in the footsteps of Baseball, we are going to get the silver signatures and gold signatures. These cards, when done well, are absolutely stunning looking pieces. If there is one thing that Topps does well its make a checklist that is short and to the point with mostly top signers, and from the preview, that is exactly what we are in for in 2014.

The dual booklet auto with Favre and Manziel is very interesting, as I think there were a lot of comparisons between the two QBs. You can see that this is going to be a highly sought after card, as you know there are a lot of fans for both players out there. It may end up being the only combo auto card with the two guys on it. The additional cards from Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy are also great looking examples, although likely not the prime chase for this set based on previous years.

I think that Five Star has shown year after year after year that it is the pinnacle of autograph sets that are available in football. Nothing compares.

I look at this like the acclaimed movie that plays in the independent theater. Its not going to be Michael Bay’s Ninja Turtles (Treasures) in terms of the big explosions and stuff like that, but if you know how to appreciate the type of film, it can be the best movie you have ever seen. Its all substance, it looks amazing, and it makes all the right choices.

When you look at Treasures, and what it is every year, its easy to compare it to a Michael Bay movie. All big flash and flare, but in the end, there is just nothing there. It can look good at times, but when you really look past the initial glance, it can never measure up.

Hobby Temperature Ticker – NFL Week 1

Man, what a bunch of awesome games this past weekend, with a ton of reason to be happy that football is back. As expected we REALLY had some amazing performances, and ill try to put together a hobby focused recap as best as possible.

Allen Hurns – WR, Jacksonville

Temperature: Heating Up
Why: 2 TDs and 100+ yards in NFL Debut

Okay, here is the one guy that everyone has come out of Sunday looking to buy. Personally, im not all in after one game, especially when Allen Hurns’ dad didnt even start Allen Hurns in fantasy last week. Hurns had a GREAT pre-season and was basically on fire during the game, but its one game. Dont go nuts – we all know that WRs are a dime a dozen, and he plays in the black hole of hobby collecting. That being said, he has no cards and thus there is a huge demand and no supply – a la Jeremy Lin in basketball.

2014 SAGE Hit Allen Hurns Rookie Auto – SERIOUSLY?!?

2014 Bowman Allen Hurns RC Foil Lot of 3

2014 Bowman Allen Hurns RC Orange Refractor /299 – WOW.

Jadeveon Clowney – DE, Houston

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: Torn MCL

This is bad for the Texans as missing Clowney for 4-6 weeks will hurt their defense for sure. It will also hurt his hobby prospects for now, as he was clearly the defensive guy to buy this class for obvious reasons. Lets hope he comes back strong.

2014 Topps Jadeveon Clowney Rookie Variation Auto

2014 Certified Jadeveon Clowney Certified Potential Auto

2014 Inception Jadeveon Clowney Inscription Auto /10

Julius Thomas – TE, Denver

Temperature: Heating Up
Why: 3 TD Catches Sunday Night

Here is my question – if Manning wasnt the one throwing him the ball, would he still be on his way to another great season? Not sure. Either way, TEs never sell, and unless you are a Jimmy Graham rookie auto, its not a good person to stock up on. Thomas was quite the common scrub auto in 2011, but he still didnt have as many cards as some of the guys at the premiere. Either way, people are paying through the nose for his stuff, not understanding the comaparative value in Graham doesnt support the prices Thomas is getting at the moment.

2011 National Treasures Julius Thomas Auto RC BGS 9.5

2011 Contenders Julius Thomas SSP Auto Ticket RC

Ray Rice – RB, Baltimore

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: Indefinitely suspended and released by the Ravens

After the video was released, its clear that what Ray Rice did was despicable. Seriously, just a hard video to watch, and the Ravens were right to release him. People have been supporting him through this ordeal, but that might be on its way out with his card values. What a terrible situation.

2008 Exquisite Ray Rice Rookie Auto Patch – Proceeds Go To Charity – pretty much the only way you can sell these.

Cordarrelle Patterson – WR, Minnesota

Temperature: Heating Up
Why: 100 yards with a TD in drubbing of St Louis

Homer pick! Either way, Patterson has been commanding nice prices all off-season thanks to the Vikings hiring of Norv Turner. Because of Turner’s rep of being an offensive guru, Patterson was primed for a breakout year. When seeing that he had some moves yesterday, there were a lot of people who are getting confirmation that he might be one of the top guys out of the 2013 class. Watch out though, the Vikings have a horrendous schedule, and Patterson is still very unproven. I only bought in because I am a huge fan. Outside of that, I would probably wait. NOTE: STAY AWAY FROM NT “AUTOS.”

2013 Topps Chrome Cordarrelle Patterson Auto Camo Refractor

2013 Five Star Cordarrelle Patterson Jumbo Rookie Patch Auto

Eddie Lacy – RB, Green Bay

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: 2nd Concussion and dismal game against Seattle

Lacy struggled against a stellar Seahawks defense, and that is no joke. With the Packers losing their right tackle and a few other players, it doesnt look like Lacy is going to go as nuts as people thought he was based on this small sample size. Collectors like to knee jerk and overreact to things, so his cards have cooled a bit.

2013 Contenders Eddie Lacy Rookie Ticket Auto

2013 Exquisite Eddie Lacy Rookie Auto Patch BGS 9.5

Tony Romo – QB, Dallas

Temperature: Cooling Down
Why: 3 picks in the first half against 49ers

Romo looked BAAAAAD yesterday, and its clear he is not all the way healed from his back injury last year. He had no arm strength and made horrible decisions. With Jerry already stupidly revealing that he wanted Manziel and passed because his son told him to, that’s not a good sign in big D.

2003 SP Authentic Tony Romo RC Auto BGS 9.5

2003 Contenders Tony Romo Rookie Ticket Auto

Check back for more as the season rolls on and let me know what your thoughts are on week 1 so far!

2014 NFL Kickoff – 5 Hobby Things to Watch Week 1

I am so excited for Kickoff that I cant even explain. Football is like a religion to me, and now that we are about to embark on another season, I could not have a better feeling right now. Of course, there are some major storylines that probably wont play out in week one, but also quite a few from the hobby that could. Here is what I would watch for.

Derek Carr on the Field Before Johnny Manziel

This is a surprise, and one that could add some really nice firepower to the hobby this year. Because Carr was generally thought of as the weakest prospect of the 4 main QBs, his starting before the other three is a VERY good thing for football cards. Collectors need someone to latch onto, and he has a great opportunity to be a lower tier guy that jumps clearly into the top tier. Look out though, because if he falls on his face, we could have another Geno Smith situation on our hands.

2014 Certified Derek Carr Mirror Black Auto Patch 1/1

2014 Topps Derek Carr Auto Variation RC

2014 Flair Showcase Derek Carr Gold Ink Auto

Other Rookies Making An Impact

The person I am most excited to see is Sammy Watkins, and I think there are many who feel the same way. Other rookies like Jadeveon Clowney are also poised to make a big splash, but its all relative to their teams’ confidence in their skills as a rookie. We have already seen guys like Brandin Cooks come alive during the preseason, and its going to be fun seeing what they have. If Manziel does end up getting some plays tomorrow, you can expect that everything else will shift to him. Just be aware.

2014 Topps Sammy Watkins Rookie Premiere Auto /90

2014 Topps Inception Jadeveon Clowney Glove Logo Patch Auto

2014 Certified Brandin Cooks Auto Patch Mirror Gold /25

Sophomore Slumps or Sophomore Utopia?

We already saw Eddie Lacy struggle and get hurt with a concussion on Thursday night, but I dont think anyone is counting him out. Other guys like EJ Manuel and Cordarrelle Patterson are ripe to step into big roles within their schemes, and its already clear that collectors are jumping on board as well. I think because the 2014 class is so hot, it might open up some buying opportunities within 2013 as a cheap alternative with big returns.

2013 National Treasures EJ Manuel Rookie Auto Patch /25

2013 Triple Threads Cordarrelle Patterson / Adrian Peterson Dual Auto Patch Booklet

2013 Platinum Eddie Lacy Logo Patch Auto 1/1

Nick Foles Gets His Shot

Everyone is talking about Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson (rightfully so), but I havent heard as much about Foles, who could end up having a huge year in a VERY weak NFC East. When all is said and done, it could be the Eagles going deep into the playoffs, and right now you can still pick up Foles relatively inexpensively. Now, he likely wont have the tremendous year he did last year, but he can still be a top collecting target for 2014.

2012 Topps Strata Nick Foles Shadowbox Auto RC

2012 Topps Chrome Nick Foles Auto RC BGS 9.5

2012 Contenders Nick Foles Auto Playoff Ticket BGS 9.5

Is Robert Griffin III Ready For Prime Time Again?

When it comes to deciding on targets, 2012 is running the show right now, and that’s fine by me. Griffin has made his way back after a rough go with Washington last year, and now that he looks to be back at full strength, there is a lot of questions as to whether or not he is capable of carrying the franchise. Of course, collecting trends favor the news, and he is not back to his 2012 dominance quite yet. If he gets back on track, look to see him back with his 2012 mates at the top.

2012 National Treasures Robert Griffin III Rookie Auto Patch BGS 9.5

2012 Triple Threads Robert Griffin III / Andrew Luck Dual Auto Patch Booklet

2012 Topps Chrome Robert Griffin III Auto Prism Refractor BGS 9.5

Again, hopefully you are as happy as I am that football is back, and definitely add your own things that you are watching too. Lets have a great season and take advantage of a great class.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2014 Certified Football Hits eBay With a Thud

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am not a fan of 2014 Certified. As stated before, the design is a rehash of Spectra, which shouldnt have been rehashed in the first place, and the rest of the set is about as bad as it gets. Certified has been around for a long time, but I have YET to see ANY reason why it has lasted as long as it has. This year is no different.

Here are the cards up so far:

2014 Certified Johnny Manziel Auto Patch Mirror Blue

2014 Certified Blake Bortles Auto Patch Mirror Red

2014 Certified Teddy Bridgewater Certified Potential Auto

2014 Certified Brandin Cooks Auto Patch Mirror Red

2014 Certified Jadeveon Clowney Certified Potential Auto

Here is my beef with the configuration as well. First, from what initial breaks are showing, you are not guaranteed a relic auto in your box. Although there may be 2 of them per 3 boxes, I have seen some without. If you do get lucky enough to pull one of them, you may end up with guys like Connor Shaw or Asa Watson, two players who were not invited to the premiere, but still have auto relics. Both did not make their squads and both were not required to be a part of products as a result of their non-attendee status at the premiere. Topps has yet to make either a box hit in any of their products, and yet here we are for the third time in a row with Shaw wasting space on the checklist. This has to be a fucking joke.

Certified has produced some of the ugliest cards in modern history, and Panini continues to make me wonder who is behind the wheel in designing and configuring these sets. As I say with every single one of my posts as of late, this is going to be the ONLY GAME IN TOWN come 2016. I hope you are preparing yourself for a decade of disappointment if this is any indicator.

Branded: Breaking Down the Top Product Lines in Football

Over the last few years, Football has become a hobby dependent on brand loyalty. Its one of the main reasons that a pending exclusive for Panini is such a horrible thing. Unlike some of the other sports, where players and pricing entry level can drive product success, football is about the name on the box. Here is a breakdown of the hobby’s most important brands.

Topps Chrome

Lifespan: 1996 to present
Price point: Low end

Im putting Topps Chrome on the list to start this article because it is not only one of the longest running brands, but one that has some RABID collectors. Not only does it appeal to set collectors, but it also appeals to high end chasers who love the rare parallels and refractors. It is one of my favorites because of the top design work and consistent quality in the product. Chrome will be missed.

2012 Topps Chrome Andew Luck Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

1998 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning RC PSA 10

2011 Topps Chrome Colin Kaepernick Auto

Upper Deck Exquisite

Lifespan: 2005 to present
Price point: Super high end

Im pretty sure that opening boxes of Exquisite could be linked to cancer and collectors would still buy it by the case. Its incredible how much loyalty Upper Deck has with the brand, and so much of it is because it was the beginning of the genre in football. Again, design is a big factor, as are the massive chase hits that are littered throughout the run. Even after the loss of the NFL licence, Exquisite RC Patch Autos are among the top cards of the year for any rookie.

2007 Exquisite Adrian Peterson Rookie Patch Auto

2005 Exquisite Aaron Rodgers Dual Patch Auto

2013 Exquisite Johnny Manziel Rookie Auto

Panini / Playoff Contenders

Lifespan: 1998 to present (current format)
Price point: Middle end

When the 1998 contenders set was released and Manning’s autograph was part of the checklist, Im sure there was some real shock. It was rare that rookie autographs were included in products, even rarer for a set like Contenders. Since that time, it has built up one of the most loyal set collecting bases, and it grows despite some very questionable and amateur designs over the past 5-10 years. It shows brand loyalty among all else.

2000 Contenders Tom Brady Championship Ticket Auto RC

1998 Contenders Peyton Manning Rookie Auto Ticket

Panini / Playoff National Treasures

Lifespan: 2006 to present
Price point: Super high end

Although originally a cheap knockoff of Upper Deck’s exquisite platform, it has since become the standard for which all base rookie cards are judged. Personally, I dont think it deserves this benchmark, as it has never been the best of the best, but has almost gotten this reputation by default. When Exquisite was relegated to the NCAA ranks, this was the only product left. Five Star was still on year one, a time where collectors rarely show a brands true performance potential. As A result, NT took over and never looked back.

2012 National Treasures Russell Wilson Rookie Patch Auto

2011 National Treasures Cam Newton Rookie Auto Patch

Upper Deck SP Authentic

Lifespan: 1996 to present
Price point: Middle end

I always thought SP authentic was far more important than Contenders at this price point, though I have come to realize its more of a mac vs PC thing. The inclusion of rookie patches and autographs in 2001 was a revolutionary concept in the RC market, and has shaped the industry ever since. Today’s hobby wouldnt be where it is without SPA, a product that has had on card autographs pretty much the whole run. Even without an NFL license, its release remains an event in football.

1998 SP Authentic Peyton Manning RC

2003 SP Authentic Tony Romo RC Auto

2001 SP Authentic Michael Vick Auto Patch RC

Topps Finest

Lifespan 1994 to present
Price point: Middle end

Back in 1993 when refractors made their debut in Baseball, collectors were wondering when Finest would come to football. Although the run had some down years in the middle 2000s, it has been revived significantly over the last few years. Now featuring some of the first on card post Premiere autographs, Finest is back on top.

2007 Topps Finest Calvin Johnson Xfractor Auto

2013 Topps Finest Robert Griffin III Auto Jumbo Patch Superfractor Logo

2006 Topps Finest Reggie Bush Auto Rookie BGS 9.5

When all is said and done, you may have your favorites year over year, but these brands are the ones that have stood the test of time.