Boom or Bust – Collecting Rookies in the New NFL

After the lockout of 2011, a new rookie wage scale was implemented that prevented teams from having to drop 50 million plus guaranteed to the top picks in the draft. With football cards predicated on rookies, this had a more profound effect than ever before because it meant that teams were not anchored to their new players if they didnt pan out immediately.

Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, teams would give a much longer leash to top rookies that struggled, only because it was so detrimental to the team’s budget and ownership to give up on a guy that you gave so much money to. Now, that isnt so much of a problem. It also means that the fans are becoming more and more conditioned to seeing players cut or traded before their first few years are over, and collectors have also started adopting that mentality.

This boom or bust approach has major impact on value – especially for rookies. If a QB comes out and plays well for a few games at the beginning, it can sustain value for the entire year. If a rookie sits or plays poorly, sometimes that can hurt the value immensely, to the point where it wont spike as high if they eventually figure things out down the road. Right now, Carson Wentz is playing very well against some pretty bad teams. Regardless, his stat lines are pretty nice looking, and has gotten a lot of attention from collectors who feel he is the real deal.

His cards after a big Monday Night nationally televised game have been showing some nice prices:

2016 Origins Carson Wentz Jumbo Patch Auto RC

2016 Absolute Carson Wentz Quad Relic Auto RC

2016 Immaculate NCAA Carson Wentz Auto Patch RC

Similar things can be said about Dak Prescott, who has played WELL above his draft position, posting some similarly good numbers. Collectors put his value into the stratosphere thanks to a great preseason performance, and those values have stayed high as he has seemingly adjusted well to the real defenses of the regular season.

Here are his cards, which are still riding high:

2016 Origins Dak Prescott / Carson Wentz Dual Auto Booklet

2016 Certified Dak Prescott Freshman Fabrics Auto Patch

2016 Leaf Metal Draft Dak Prescott Auto RC

As for Jared Goff, who was inactive week one and on the bench week two, it hasnt been as easy going. Case Keenum has shown to be a lackluster option for the Rams, but Jeff Fisher is determined to let his top pick develop before throwing him to the wolves. Collectors see it as a huge detriment to potential, and even if his numbers end up being equal to Wentz in the long run, Goff may always be lower because he sat.

In terms of the discussion here, collectors (as much as the ownership/coaches) want to see results from rookies almost immediately. There are exceptions sure, and being a number one pick can be a factor, but nothing brings in the big bucks like a huge game or two. Personally, I dont think that this is a good thing for QBs, especially when its clear that it is literally one of the toughest positions to be successful in all of sports. Sometimes it takes forever.

Players like Brock Osweiler and Jimmy Garoppolo are interesting counterpoints here, as they both are in the bucket of players who didnt get to play right away. Both got their shot and both have performed pretty well. Collectors havent put enormous numbers on their cards, but the value has spiked in a pretty good way that shows people havent given up quite yet. Prospecting in football rarely works the same way it does in baseball, but these two players are great examples of when it does.

The message to talk about here is that looking at cards from an investment standpoint is probably a bad idea. At the same time, its fun to speculate and see your favorite cards be worth something to more than just you. Vanity and swinging a big collecting dick is a pretty huge part of the hobby and its clear that seeing your cards increase in value is something we all enjoy. I just wish it wasnt so dependent on the first few games of a player’s career.

On the Radar: 2016 Panini Infinity Football

After looking at this garbage, I have one thought. Its a simple thought, so bare with me.

WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF BULLSHIT IS THIS GARBAGE?

Whew, that about sums it up. Aside from ANOTHER god awful name for a product, this one looks just as bad from a design perspective as all their other shit has looked this year. Its unimaginative, it uses those goofy ass posed pictures, and has more sticker replacement with what looks to be sheet metal from the scrap yard. One person on Twitter mused it looked like dumpster bound iPad backs, which I can no longer unsee.

The bottom line is this. Panini sucks at making sets (see Unparalleled, Gala, and Phoenix), and can only succeed when they blatantly rip off their competitors (origins). I dont understand why they continue to churn out this type of donkey turd, knowing its just going to be another notch on the bedpost when it ends up in the bargain bin. Its no wonder why sales have been slumping, and shops have been complaining about how they cant move a single Panini product, let alone a new piece of crap every week.

If Panini want to continue driving their product line into the ground, that’s on them. The issue is that there is no other pro licensed product out there to save us from this burning building. When Panini succeeds in scaring off half the people who are left after Topps was cut from the NFL, maybe then we can finally go back to a state where I dont have to sit around wishing it was 2015 anymore. Its pretty clear that all those red numbers next to Panini football products arent there because things are selling like hot cakes, and its only going to get worse if they think we are stupid enough to buy their scraps off the trash heap from previous years.

Man, I am getting more and more pessimistic by the day over the future of this industry.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2016 Spectra Football is Back With More Garbage

I hate Spectra. I have hated it since 2014, and this year is no different. It was so bad last year that I added it to my worst products of the last 10 years list, and I dont see it getting any better this year. Everything about the product makes my stomach turn and my eyes hurt, and aside from Unparalleled, this is another feather in the cap for Panini in making the worst products in the history of the hobby.

Check out these cards – please have a vomit receptacle near by.

2016 Spectra Dak Prescott / Ezekiel Elliot Dual Patch Auto Pink

2016 Spectra Laquon Treadwell Logo Patch Auto Orange

2016 Spectra Michael Strahan Auto Pink – This white box is so big you can see it from space.

2016 Spectra Carson Wentz / Jared Goff Dual Tag Auto 1/1

Spectra has four enormous things that all work against it. First is design. The whole look of the product, even without the other three things in play, would be a shit sandwich just because of base concept itself. When you add in Price, the ridiculous patterns on the card stock, and those horrible stickers with neon pens, its a storm of epic proportions. Worth mentioning that when Panini decided to rip off Topps’ entire slate of chrome based product lines with Prizm (Topps Chrome), Select (Finest), and this for Bowman Sterling, they didnt realize how many people already despised Sterling. Its basically the same setup, but Bowman Sterling rarely had design issues, and never used these god awful neon stickers.

Its kind of scary that anyone would really consider dropping the insane price point for this, as it just doesnt deliver much worth buying. The autographs for the main hits are not on card, and the theme of the set is literally nothing new for Panini. Its almost built for group breaks, which is becoming a normal thing for their product lines, and that should really scare everyone more than the ineptitude displayed in actually building the set itself. Its clear that orders werent all that strong, as they added case incentives to try to get the rest of the product off their shelves.

Have our standards dropped this low? How are people not soiling themselves with anger over the slap in the face Spectra represents. They couldnt even get these cards done in a way that reflects the price of the box, and to see such a terrible looking set get into the mix with an even worse history, why do people stand by and let Panini go without repercussions from their spending habits.

Its kind of funny how many collectors who were once Panini fans have emailed me with their disapproval of the garbage this year. Here is one from Jason, who said he has been a Panini fan for a while. I have gotten quite a few of these, but nothing as interesting as this one was.

Gellman,

First off, I really dont agree with much of what you say on your site. Although you have a good thing going in the style of your blog, your ideas never really resonated with me. I have been a Panini fan for most of the time, mainly because I love their Basketball stuff so much, but have dabbled in football too. 

It was only natural that I was happy they got the exclusive, and I fully expected you to go off the deep end, which you kind of have. 

That being the case, all I can say is that all those things you complained about possibly happening when the exclusive took hold have seemingly been woven into the fabric of their 2016 football line. One product is worse than the next and I am completely bored out of my mind. I still dont think that I fully agree with the way you trash their product setups but their design has fallen off a cliff and these products are pretty laughable for people like me. 

I bought a number of Panini boxes and cases last year, and at least one of every product. So far, I have spent close to nothing this year. I hope they change, because I have liked what they did before, but if it continues to go this way, Im staying out of football for good. My shop owner down here said his sales have dropped so much that he doesnt pre-order cases anymore. He cant afford to let their crap collect dust on his shelf with how little he makes as it is. 

Anyways, just wanted to give you some fuel for your fire, as I think your rants might actually end up being mutually beneficial.

Jason

Interesting stuff indeed, and I only expect it to get worse as Panini waters down their brand names with identical NCAA and pro releases side by side. This industry was already going down the toilet, Panini only makes it worse.

 

Top Hobby Stories from NFL Kickoff Sunday

I love this time of year. As I have said from the beginning of this site, I have one or two religious holidays, and opening weekend for the NFL is one of them. I religiously watch and consume all the football I can during the weekend, especially with Topps Huddle being such a huge factor. There were some big things this past Sunday with so many new players on the hobby radar to watch, and many delivered in spades.

Dak Prescott

There was no bigger rookie during the preseason than Prescott, who played out of his mind versus the vanilla, and played relatively pretty well during the first real action too. Although the Cowboys lost, he threw for a respectable 227 yards. No TDs on the board was a bit disappointing, although the Dez Bryant catch might have been one that should have stood. I think the Cowboys need Prescott to do well, and the hobby sure does as well.

His cards have cooled some, but still very hot:

2016 Origins Dak Prescott Blue Auto RC Base

2016 Donruss Dak Prescott Rookie Phenoms Auto Relic RC

2016 Certified Dak Prescott Freshman Fabrics Auto Patch

Carson Wentz

Even though the Browns are a terrible team, this performance might have been the top of the week in terms of Hobby relevance. Wentz looked like the real deal and had some nice throws for scores along the way. The Eagles traded away Bradford for good reason other than Wentz’s skill, but they sure looked like they made the right move. Wentz already had top rookie value because of his draft position and field position, but this should keep that value high as we go into the first quarter of the season.

Wentz has had good prices all preseason, but not insane after a good start:

2016 Origins Carson Wentz Auto Variation RC /25

2016 Absolute Carson Wentz Triple Relic Auto /199

2016 Score Carson Wentz RC Auto

Jimmy Garoppolo

Im wondering how many people bought a ton of his cards just for a moment like last night. We knew the Patriots were going to be good because they are the Patriots, but seeing the way Garoppolo played was pretty impressive considering the spotlight. When Brady’s suspension went into effect, his cards already hit their ceiling, but its going to be interesting to see what happens when Brady comes back. Im not sure how many more years he will play, and if they see their backup as the future, he could have a nice residual in his value through then. Otherwise, it could be another Osweiler type of situation.

Still a number of deals to be had:

2014 Topps Platinum Jimmy Garoppolo Auto Patch RC

2014 Immaculate Jimmy Garoppolo Auto Patch RC

Ezekiel Elliott

After a tumultuous type of week surrounding him and potential substance issues, Elliott came back and had a nice touchdown run in a game that was overall kind of a wash. I think that he will find his way as the year goes on, but it wasnt a 100 yard type of day for him. Hobby wise, people are always skeptical when there are drug issues, as looming suspensions might follow. Even if he ends up staying clean, and I hope he does, those types of things hurt the open market. Luckily, he plays for an enormously popular team.

Here is where he sits right now:

2016 Contenders Draft Ezekiel Elliott Auto Ticket
2016 Origins Ezekiel Elliott Variation Auto RC /25

Brock Osweiler

Ah yes, one of the bigger acquisitions of the offseason got a good look yesterday, and came out on top. The Bears arent what they used to be, but the new franchise QB of the Texans put up some nice numbers with 230 plus yards and 2 TDs. When he got some time for the Broncos last year, many collectors jumped on the bandwagon knowing that Manning was likely out after the year. I dont think many expected that he would be wearing navy instead of the orange though. Will Fuller put up some good numbers in his first game too, which adds some promise for a Texans team that needs a good year at QB after what happened last year.

2012 National Treasure Brock Osweiler RC Auto Patch /99

2012 Five Star Brock Osweiler Rookie Auto Patch /50

Thursday Extra – Trevor Siemian

The Broncos pulled out a squeaker on Thursday, and this whole QB situation is interesting. Although he threw 2 picks and looks like a serviceable starter, Siemian is not the long term answer in Denver. Paxton Lynch will play, and will play as soon as late 2016 depending on record, and yet we see card prices that dont seem to reflect this. A few years ago, I started talking about the Brady effect, or a guy without many cards who has since become a worthwhile target. Happened with Tony Romo, and for some reason, people are thinking its going to happen with Siemian too. With a first round pick spent on Lynch, I feel like he will not go without every chance to succeed, even if the 2016 season ends with another playoff berth. Supply is trumping everything in this case, as people seem to think its worth dumping 100 bucks into him on the off chance he catches on. Its not a worthwhile look for me. Be cautious people. All I have to say.

Insane for a player like this:

2015 Contenders Trevor Siemian Auto Ticket

I am beyond happy football is back, and even more happy to see how things pan out this year. Although the products have been less than mediocre to poor this year, I have to believe that that a fun season will help everything be at least somewhat better in dealing with the situation in the hobby.

SCU Go Live Report: 2016 Absolute Football

If you go back 10 to 15 years ago, Absolute was a relevant product. You could even argue that in 2011 and 2012, when the product was hard signed that it was somewhat relevant. These days, when barely any single relic cards have any value, and sticker auto relics are EVERYWHERE, this product is as forgettable as it gets. In fact, the same could be said about many/all of the Panini products released in 2016, save Origins. Well, we all know how Origins came to be, so maybe that isnt a good example of a victory. Hope Topps gets a nice thank you basket for that rip job.

Here are some of the cards up so far:

2016 Absolute Ezekiel Elliot RPA 5 piece Relic Auto 1/1

2016 Absolute Dak Prescott Rookie Premiere Materials Auto

2016 Absolute Brett Favre Marks of Fame Auto 5/5

2016 Absolute Jerry Rice HOF Relic Auto

2016 Absolute Cam Newton Glass Redemption

I mean, the design isnt that bad this year all things considered, as the rookie premiere materials actually are as good as they have been in recent memory. The problem is that they dont really add anything to a product that is desperate for something to happen. Just because a product has been around so long, doesnt give it a pass to be ordinary. It surely doesnt give it a pass to be stale year after year.

The funniest thing is that Panini is already adding redemptions for sticker autographs of their main rookies and has been doing so for a few products now. Considering they just had a CAPTIVE audience at the rookie premiere, where these things should have gotten done, is beyond laughable. Maybe breaking out the crayons for sketch cards and doing Instagram human bobbleheads isnt the best plan, boys. Even if the players and NFLPA is complaining, you overpay so much for this event and license, its time to get busy and figure it out. Redemptions in September are not acceptable for stickers.

They also have redemptions for Glass cards, which look interesting to say the least. Absolute used to offer oversized glass cards a number of years ago, and they actually ended up being relatively cool display pieces for the time. If they can get these glass pieces shipped and set, they could be a focal point of the product again. If they turn out lame and unimaginitive, then it will just be Panini’s par for the course as usual.

Bottom line, here is the issue. Panini is responsible for too many products when they ALREADY did such a poor job with product differentiation. Outside of Treasures, Contenders, Flawless and Immaculate, I dont see much worth in what they do. Prizm continues to be sticker, Impeccable is a wild card (and potentially more expensive than its worth), and the rest just blur together. Just a sad state of affairs. They really need to put those heads together and find a way to innovate that doesnt involve consistent theft from the competition.