No Starting QBs Does Not Mean No Potential for 2014 Football Cards

Its rare that a rookie QB isnt officially the starter by this point in the preseason. Remember back in 2012, we had a ton of guys that were ready for prime time before they were even drafted. Not the case this year. Even in 2013, EJ Manuel had the Bills starting job locked up, and that was the worst year in recent memory.

Although the Raiders job isnt locked up quite yet, its quite likely now that there wont be any of the top draft picks taking the field and taking snaps during week one. Unlike 2013, where the class was just awful all around, 2014 is thought as one of the better classes in a while. When you see that the hobby is QB driven, how much does this affect value? From what we have seen, not much. Here is a breakdown of how I expect this to shake out.

1. Johnny Manziel

Although its clear now, I never expected to see Johnny Football as Johnny Clipboard week one. Not in a million years. He is still the top guy in the class by a mile and a half, but he wont see real action as the starter until Hoyer falls on his face. I think that will likely come sooner rather than later, especially with Josh Gordon’s year long suspension recently upheld. Manziel WILL be the starter, and he will get his shot, but Im still not convinced he wont struggle mightily. After watching all his pre-season snaps, its amazing how bad he can look on one play and how good he can look on others. Collectors are pouring THOUSANDS of dollars into his cards despite this fact, and I dont think the comparative value says thats a good idea. Either way I see why people love him.

Here are some top cards of his to chase:

2014 Panini Elite Johnny Manziel On Card Auto Inscription Red Ink

2014 Topps Johnny Manziel Jumbo Patch Auto /20

2014 Topps Inception Johnny Manziel Nike Logo Auto 1/1

Likely start date: Week 3
Current Value: HIGH
Hobby Potential: More valuable Michael Vick circa 2005

2. Blake Bortles

Of all the rookie QBs during the preseason, I think Bortles made his case to be the starter better than any other player. However, Jacksonville had already committed to sitting him during his rookie year, which is not only against the grain, but likely a horrible idea. Bortles played quite well, and Chad Henne isnt exactly a franchise QB, which means that there is likely no reason not to see what Bortles has in the tank. His hobby value isnt even close to where Manziel is, despite the fact that he played better. The difference is that Bortles has no polarizing public persona, and played for a college with no hype behind it.

Here are Bortles’ top cards:

2014 Topps Inception Blake Bortles Draw Play Inscription Auto

2013 Exquisite Blake Bortles Auto XRC 1/1

2014 Topps Blake Bortles Jumbo Patch Auto

Likely start date: Week 6
Current Value: GOOD
Hobby Potential: More valuable Andy Dalton (Jacksonville is a black hole of hobby value)

3. Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy ended the Preseason with 5 TDs and no interceptions, but it was clear that the Vikings were not willing to take the restrictor plate off the offense during any of their games. All of Teddy’s TDs were short completions, and though he looked very good in his time on the field, I dont think we got a good representation of what he could do. That is both a good and bad thing, as with no real bite to the offense, it was safe enough to keep his confidence high. Lets not forget that this is an offense built around the running game and Adrian Peterson as well. If they had taken the reins off a bit more, I dont think it would have gone as well. Like Manziel, I think the Vikings will be bad enough that Teddy will get some starts this season, despite how well Cassel played. At that point we will see what he is all about.

Here are Teddy’s Top Cards:

2014 Topps Inception Teddy Bridgewater Inscription Auto 1/1

2014 Bowman Teddy Bridgewater NFL Uniform Auto

2014 Topps Teddy Bridgewater Photo Variation Auto SP

Likely start date: Week 7
Current Value: GOOD
Hobby Potential: More valuable Donovan McNabb

4. Derek Carr

I dont think we got a clear picture of Carr due to his not playing due to a concussion in a game where he would have likely taken most of the snaps. He did look pretty good when he was playing, but not necessarily good enough to supplant Matt Schaub, who has seemingly forgotten how to play football. As a second round pick, he wasnt expected to come in and start right away, even though he was only drafted a few spots below Bridgewater. Funny how that works – as the hobby functions in a very similar fashion. Either way, he will eventually get a shot when Schaub figures out that his best targets dont wear silver and black. The Raiders arent exactly confident enough in Carr at this point, but they will give him the captain’s hat.

Here are Derek Carr’s top cards:

2014 Inception Derek Carr Red Auto /10

2014 Upper Deck Derek Carr SP Authentics On Card

Likely start date: Week 4
Current Value: BARGAIN
Hobby Potential: Less valuable Phillip Rivers

I cant even put into words how excited I am for the NFL season to start next Thursday, and I think that guys like these QBs, combined with others like Sammy Watkins will make this a great hobby year even without a starting QB week one. Prime your wallets for overdrive now, because if any of these four break out, it will be all over. Just wait to see where Manziel’s prices go if he has even a mediocre first game.

Panini Previews More 2014 Certified Football

Unlike many of the recent sets we have seen from Panini, Certified has been around forever. Frankly, I am surprised, as it has literally been one of the most poorly designed products in card history. Year after year of horrid themes and looks to the cards, and that’s putting it lightly. Last year, with a down class, I believe that we had a better looking set, which included a pretty progressive design to the box hits.

Check out the checkered past of this product – you will see why I feel the way I do:

2005 Leaf Certified Materials Aaron Rodgers RC Auto /5

2006 Leaf Certified Materials Deangelo Williams Triple Relic Auto – this year is one of the worst card designs in modern history

2007 Leaf Certified Materials Marshawn Lynch Triple Relic Auto

2008 Leaf Certified Materials Chris Johnson Triple Relic Auto – Another awful year

2009 Leaf Certified Materials Lesean McCoy Dual Relic Auto

2010 Leaf Certified Materials Eric Decker Triple Relic Auto – would have been fine if not for the goofy pictures

2011 Certified Randall Cobb Triple Relic Auto – I think this is the best year of the run

2012 Certified Nick Foles Dual Relic Auto

2013 Certified Giovani Bernard Dual Relic Auto

This year, from what we have seen, the cards are about as boring as it gets. The freshman fabric cards, which have always been the staple of this product are basically diet versions of Spectra, which was both Chrome stock and on card. This is neither. Instead we get the signature rainbow foil and sticker autos, which everyone should be very familiar with. I swear to god, whomever the company is that makes this ugly ass stock is going to be fucking rich come 2016. Panini uses it like it is the key to happiness. Its ugly as shit.

On top of the spectra clone design work for the main box hits, the fabric of the game cards are triggering PTSD flashbacks to the train wreck we all experienced with 2013 Limited. The compartmentalized design with the tiny player picture stuffed into to the top right is a complete nightmare, and that doesnt even begin to describe how terrible it is that a fabled set like this has degraded to this point.

Im running out of adjectives for ugly as I move into the new generation cards, where the logo for the set is almost bigger than the picture of the player. I have no idea why this continues to be the case with Panini, but they cant seem to prevent themselves from tripping over their own stupidity. Considering they will also be coming out with one of the most needless sets of the year in TOTALLY Certified as well, these cards only get worse as the year goes on. Totally Certifed deserves its own paragraph of ridicule, but ill save that for when they eventually solicit it.

Overall, this type of crap is going to be bought up because collectors have grown up with this set. It hasnt deserved to win that type of brand loyalty, as I can only count a few times where I have actually wanted to buy singles from this product. Not a good showing, and gear up as we approach the time where there will be no other options at bay.

Here is the damage:

Go-Live Report: How Does 2014 Topps Chrome Baseball Stack Up?

As much as I love Chrome in Football, I have never been as big a fan of it on the baseball side. Last year was one of the first times that I really opened any of the packs, and I think they did a really nice job with it. As I am looking at this year’s Chrome, I havent quite made up my mind quite yet.

Here are some of the big hits already up:

2014 Topps Chrome Jose Abreu Gold Refractor Auto /50

2014 Topps Chrome George Springer Atomic Refractor Auto /10

2014 Topps Chrome Gregory Polanco Black Refractor Auto

2014 Topps Chrome Nick Castellanos Black Refractor Auto

2014 Topps Chrome Xander Bogaerts Gold Refractor Auto /50

After watching some initial breaks and looking at the listings, its hard not to see how much Abreu is poured into this product – much like the rest of Topps’ sets this year. Considering the year he is having, that isnt necessarily a bad thing. The checklist has most of the same guys that have been all over Topps sets as of late, which I think is one of the main drawbacks to the product lines in recent years. Because Bowman Chrome is the king of baseball rookie cards, I would actually like to see Topps Chrome focus more on veteran on card autos instead of pumping the hobby full of another rookie set.

I think the 2014 design lends itself very well to the Chrome set, and though there are added die cuts and subsets, I think that this product really does need a fresh approach. Obviously, the base design would stay, but Topps really needs to find a way to differentiate the other parts of the set from the majority of its product line. I know there are veteran autographs in the product, Im just looking for more. Despite my not liking a lot of what Finest did in terms of design, it did have some REALLY nice on card auto content from some top tier guys. That is what Chrome should shoot for.

Chrome used to be very special because it was one of the first sets alongside Topps Finest to have high end rookie cards. When the hobby shifted more towards prospecting, and Bowman became the flagship set, all that went away. People have rookie cards in Topps Chrome years after first appearing in Bowman, which is a huge issue in the valuation of this set.

I dont want Topps to give up on this set, and I know they wont, but I cant help but feel like its getting to a point of boredom. That is never a good thing.

On the Radar: 2014 Topps Supreme Brings New Elements to An Old Favorite

Back in 2010, Supreme was released with little fanfare around a product that was basically Triple Threads lite. Since that time, Topps has converted it into one of their biggest and most anticipated releases of the year, with a huge focus on creating a brand identity along side some pretty amazing content. Although there are still a lot of reasons why Supreme should be improved year over year, it always looks good. In fact, it has even been successful enough to be transferred over to baseball. This is a brand I will miss come 2016.

Here are some of the better cards:

2012 Topps Surpeme Nick Foles Booklet Drawn Play Auto /5

2013 Topps Surpeme Eli Manning Logo Patch Booklet Auto 1/1

2013 Topps Surpeme Eddie Lacy Nickname Inscription Auto /5

2013 Topps Surpeme Dan Marino Jumbo Logo Relic Auto

2012 Topps Surpeme Russell Wilson Dual Relic Auto

Because so many of Topps’ products are rookie focused, Supreme’s large amount of veteran content is a big deal. Added focus on booklets and nice relics brings the product to a level of attractiveness that many collectors will like. I think that each year, the design gets a bit better, and the checklist gets a bit better, and when the rookie class is great, Supreme is a winner. This year has all of those things, and I hope we get another good year.

We also see from the solicitation that there will be on card rookie autos (at minimum), for the first time in the history of the product. This has always been the biggest drawback of the product, as a late year release like this should have a lot more on card content. Im glad we are getting it for the first time this year. Another big issue is the configuration, which continues to be rough with so many dud relic boxes with the same price tag as every other pack. Those boxes alone should scare you away from busting this en masse.

I think this product has the potential to be a superior version of Limited, and in terms of singles, it does that and more. The difference is on the box break, which Limited’s configuration can be a bit more forgiving.

Bottom line, some of my favorite autographs of the year come out of Supreme, and I expect another big year again.

What Does National Treasures Basketball Say About the Future?

I have been paying more and more attention to Panini products in other sports, just to see the level of sucktitude we are in for come 2016 in football. Even though Panini football products up to this point are so bad that I cant put it into words, I am afraid they will get exponentially worse without competition. 2014 National Treasures Basketball was a product I really wanted to check out, because I had seen the nauseating marketing blitz they put behind it.

Basically, let me break this down for you, just in case you dont follow Basketball cards. National Treasures basketball costs about the same as you get in the other sports, sticker autos and cigar box be damned. However, the dynamic has changed a bit with the releases of Flawless and Immaculate taking its place as the highest end products of the year for Panini.

I think that this year’s set is a sad excuse for 479 dollars a box, despite how Basketball really performs. Yes, you can literally fart into a box, slap a 500 dollar price tag on it, and Basketball collectors will line up to buy it. In fact, im pretty sure that’s happened before. That’s just the way basketball is, its easy to sell high end. This version of Treasures is sadly one step below, with some of the oddest sets I have seen.

First off, there is a printing plate per box, sometimes more than one. Its a bit more than strange that most of the plates are from other products. Aside from the fact that I hate printing plates in any high end product, isnt it a little weird that they are adding this as guaranteed pack content in National Treasures again? Its like putting a TV in a car that faces out the rear window (yes this is a thing). Completely useless, and really just adding for the sake of adding. Im guessing the conversation went something like this:

“Holy shit Joe, these boxes are pretty dry. Should we add more autograph or relic content?”

“Nah, just insert that pile of printing plates at the back of each pack. They love them plates.”

I guess it goes without saying that adding printing plates makes up for your Chris Andersen sticker auto you got in the box.

Then we go onto further box content of AT LEAST one redemption per box. I guess the whole points thing isnt going to transfer over to products where the cards per box actually matter? That was quick. To take it further, I cant believe people are okay with a guaranteed redemption per box. For a box to cost as much as it does, and for most of the autos to be stickers, how is this acceptable? Oh right, no one else can produce NBA cards. Forgot about that.

Then we get onto the chase cards – those logos that everyone is talking about. Have I mentioned that many of them can be numbered as high as FIVE? All those logo cards that Upper Deck used to make a name for themselves are all 1/1, but is it still a chase when 4 other people can pull the same card? Secondly, just how many game used jerseys are they hoarding per player? Good god! Is it cool that more people have a chance to pull one? Sure, but maybe not when it could be Enes Kanter and its not a 1/1?

Speaking of Enes Kanter, these product checklists are just wacky. They are about 80% too deep for a box that you literally have to drop a car payment on, and dont give me this crap about player collectors either. Im not saying to not include them ever on any auto checklist, but you would be pissed too if your box had JJ Redick as your main hit. Sure, some JJ Redick collector is half staff that he gets a card to collect in treasures, but does that make it okay?

When you consider that high end is crap shoot to begin with, I know its not a good idea to study box content in any high end product. However, when you take a look at the other products on this level, ALL OF THEM ARE 100% ON CARD. Exquisite, Five Star, Immaculate, Flawless, etc. No stickers. They definitely dont have a guaranteed redemption per box. The issue is that there is no competition to challenge Panini’s reign, and they dont even have autographs from the two biggest names in the sport.

Sure, this rant is overly harsh in a lot of ways, as there are a lot of nice looking cards in Treasures. I just cant help but be angry that collectors continue to settle. Everyone speaks with their wallet and for whatever reason, Treasures still has buyers. That is pretty sad, especially when you look at some of the breaks. I think I saw someone pull something like 10 Alex Len auto redemptions in 20 cases.

Topps has a lot of the same issues with complacency on the baseball side, which only goes to show how fucking stupid it is to grant exclusives to anyone. No matter how much you like or hate a company, its just blasphemous to say that exclusivity is better than a competitive marketplace. Competition has always bred innovation, or at least some minuscule level of quality in the product. Now, its just a matter how close to a fart in a box a company can get before people start asking for their money back.