Hobby Musings: NFL carrying a lot of hobby intrigue heading into 2017 – College football made its big return last weekend, and the NFL gets its turn this week. All eyes will be on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as they start their run for another Super Bowl when they face-off against the Chiefs on Thursday night. While Brady is fun to watch, from a card standpoint, I find myself wondering if Brandin Cooks’ card values will benefit from a year in New England. I also can’t help but wonder if this is the year Jameis Winston joins the ranks of the NFL trading card elite?
In the trading card world, the main NFL intrigue at the beginning of each season centers around the rookie class. With the majority of veterans already having plenty of cards, the first-year players are the one segment that tend to bring that unknown and excitement into a new collecting year. While the 2017 class will have a lot to live up to after Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott’s impressive 2016 showing, there are a lot of rookies this year that could provide similar impacts.
To talk more about some of the things to watch for this NFL season, I enlisted the help of Panini senior director of product development Nick Matijevich, Blowout Cards’ Matt Thomas and Beckett football editor David Lee. The following interviews were conducted via email.
Hobby Musings: NFL carrying a lot of hobby intrigue heading into 2017
NM: I think the biggest storyline heading into the season is the depth of this rookie class from a skill position standpoint, with the RBs being of particular interest. I can’t remember the last time there were so many rookie RBs slated for significant roles on their teams; Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Kareem Hunt are already set up to be bell-cows, with Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon slated for key roles as well, and that is without taking into consideration guys like D’Onta Foreman, Marlon Mack and Samaje Perine, who could also get some early run.
MT: I think there are two major stories this off-season. The first being how will the Cowboys’ Super Bowl aspirations be impacted with Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension being upheld? The loss of a premier playmaker for an extended amount of time will undoubtedly put pressure on second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, and it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys’ offense performs without arguably the best running back in football to start the season. The second biggest storyline is can a 40-year-old Tom Brady continue to flourish in New England as the Patriots chase their 6th ring? Personally, I wouldn’t ever bet against the GOAT.
DL: Rookies are obviously going to be a huge story every year. Who will live up to the hype? Who will disappoint, and who will surprise? But I’m still interested in watching Tom Brady’s Rookie Cards. He’s 40 years old now, and his cards broke records last year in terms of value. Just when you think you’ve seen things have topped out, they keep growing. It’s definitely still worth keeping an eye on.
NM: DeShone Kizer is obviously going to be the first guy on the field, but I think Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson will continue to pace the market, as they both looked good in the preseason, and the expectation is that they’ll get some starts at some point this season. Pat Mahomes has obviously seen a nice bump as well after showing off his arm in their last game, but barring an injury to Alex Smith, it’s unlikely he’ll play this season, so it will be interesting to see if people continue to push his values, based on his long-term potential, since he is clearly the future for the Chiefs.
MT: I think a guy like Deshaun Watson has an opportunity to take over the Texans team at some point this season and lead them to a division title in a relatively soft AFC South. Watson had tremendous success at Clemson and has been a proven leader and winner on the biggest stages of college football. As long as they don’t ask too much of him or throw him into the fire early, I think all signs point to Watson having a stellar NFL career.
DL: At first I thought it would be Deshaun Watson, even though he was the third quarterback drafted. He had a good preseason, but so did Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer. Kizer has already been named the starter in Cleveland and Trubisky surprised me a lot. If I had to pick one at this point, I’d have to go with Trubisky. He’s look really poised. Plus, his cards started off hot and have remained hot the entire off-season.
NM: As I alluded to in my first answer, the RB class has potential for a huge year, and I think they’ll be the biggest drivers early in the season, assuming they perform up to expectations. Christian McCaffrey’s values have been very strong, and I fully expect Fournette, Cook, Hunt and Mixon to come on as well. An under the radar guy is T.J. Watt, who has had a lot of interest up to this point, and he could have a great year in Pittsburgh. Finally, while he has been hurt for much of the preseason, I expect Corey Davis to breakout as the season goes on, as his college tape is ridiculous and he looked great in early practices before his injury.
MT: This year’s rookie running back crop is absolutely loaded. Don’t be surprised if you see multiple 1000 yard backs by the end of the season. Guys like Christian McCaffrey,Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and D’onta Forman will get a lot of carries to start their NFL careers.
DL: You have to look at Leonard Fournette. I think he’s the most NFL-ready running back since Adrian Peterson. I expect the Jacksonville offense to improve significantly this season. I met him at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere, and he’s an impressive guy. My No. 2 would be Christian McCaffrey. He’s a do-it-all weapon that could make the Panthers’ offense very dangerous.
NM: Two guys I mentioned last year, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, should continue to trend upwards this season. Carr in particular saw a nice bump after last year, but with the Raiders looking to improve upon a strong season, I think you’ll see both of their values continue to climb. Jordan Howard came on last season, but his card values somewhat lagged when compared to his performance, with all of the attention on Dak and Zeke, so I think he’ll see a nice bump this year as well. Carson Wentz falls into a similar boat, as despite a solid rookie season, his values softened a bit late, but I think he takes a big step forward this year and fully steps into the spotlight as an elite QB. It will also be interesting to see how Jameis Winston and Mike Evans do in Tampa. While not traditionally a strong market, the Bucs have a lot of firepower, and obviously have the attention from Hard Knocks to help push their interest nationally as well.
MT: I think this year’s breakout player is Jameis Winston. Assuming the team stays healthy, the Bucs have strengthened their roster this off season and added some nice weapons for Winston to continue to progress as a franchise quarterback. I’d look for them to contend for the NFC South in what should be a highly competitive division.
DL: I’m really interested in seeing what Brandin Cooks does in New England, especially with Julian Edelman now out for the season. That could be a perfect fit for him. I expect Melvin Gordon to make a pretty big leap this season, too.
NM: Ty Montgomery and DeVante Parker are two 2015 rookies that I’m expecting to have nice seasons, and they are in markets that have had a lot of hobby success through the years. I also expect Todd Gurley to have a bounce-back season, as after last year, the market has somewhat cooled on him.
MT: Personally, I was impressed with what I saw from Carson Wentz last year as a rookie. Unfortunately, the Eagles weren’t a great team and he was overshadowed by Dak Prescott who plays in the same division. I look for Wentz to continue to improve his accuracy and put up quality statistics in 2017. Depending on what happens with the Cowboys suspensions the NFC East could be a lot more competitive than people think.
DL: I can’t understand why David Johnson’s top cards don’t bring in more money. He’s the most productive offensive weapon in football. If he has a season close to what he did last year, his card values could finally catch up to his on-field production. Also keep an eye on rookie running back James Conner. Le’Veon Bell is the starter, but he has a history of injury. Conner is a tough runner who will also catch the ball.
NM: Tom Brady’s unprecedented 5th Super Bowl victory has clearly pushed him to the top of this list, but with Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, Ezekiel Elliott and Russell Wilson close behind, you have a very strong top 5 right now that is generating a ton of hobby interest and bringing in a lot of young collectors. We saw more kids at the National this year than any time in recent memory, and these football stars were a huge area of focus for them.
MT: It’s hard to argue against Tom Brady considering the NFL is a quarterback driven league and he’s arguably the greatest of all time at his position. However, Brady doesn’t sign a lot anymore and we’ve seen a shift in trying to target that “next guy.” Derek Carr’s rookie card prices have increased pretty dramatically on the secondary market in the last few months. Assuming he comes back from injury and is able to perform at the level he did in 2016, we might be looking at the next great quarterback for years to come and the Oakland Raiders return the football’s biggest stage.
DL: Tom Brady is king of the hill. But his cards are expensive. Even his lower-end cards are highly desirable. Just getting your hands on any Brady autographed card would be a big deal for just about any collector.
Hobby Musings: NFL carrying a lot of hobby intrigue heading into 2017
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