Sports Card Frenzy

One collector's attempt at a deeper understanding of the theories and philosophies of his hobby.

Month: July, 2013

Rookie Stock Watch: 2013 Training Camp Edition

Time for Sports Card Frenzy’s first market report!

Last night I scrolled through the recent Ebay sales of three popular 2013 releases and compiled a list of the Top 20 highest-selling rookies for each set: Bowman, Leaf Metal Draft, and Topps Inception. Overall rankings are at the bottom.

Bowman Base Refractor Autos:

1. Geno Smith – $81.50
2. EJ Manual – $74.99
3. Eddie Lacy – $61.00
4. Marcus Lattimore – $59.99
5. Matt Barkley – $59.49
6. Tavon Austin – $49.99
7. Montee Ball – $45.00
8. Denard Robinson – $34.50
9. Le.Veon Bell – $32.99
10. Markus Wheaton – $32.00
11. Cordarrell Patterson – $31.00
11. Ryan Nassib – $31.00
13. Giovani Bernard – $26.09
14. Landry Jones – $26.00
14. Jarvis Jones – $26.00
16. Tyler Eifert – $25.85
17. DeAndre Hopkins – $25.40
18. Tyler Wilson – $21.06
19. Knile Davis – $20.49
20. Quinton Patton – $19.99

——————-

Leaf Metal Draft Base Autos:

1. Geno Smith – $59.99
2. EJ Manual – $39.99
2. Manti Te’o – $39.99
4. Eddie Lacy – $39.78
5. Matt Barkley – $34.00
6. Tavon Austin – $29.00
6. Montee Ball – $29.00
8. Denard Robinson – $24.50
9. Tyrann Mathieu – $21.50
10. Eric Reid – $20.50
11. Rex Burkhead – $19.99
12. Cordarrelle Patterson – $19.99
13. Le’Veon Bell – $19.50
14. Marcus Lattimore – $18.00
15. Tyler Eifert – $16.50
16. Joseph Randle – $15.99
17. Giovani Bernard – $15.99
18. DeAndre Hopkins – $13.55
19. Terrance Williams – $13.06
20. Landry Jones – $12.76

——————-

Inception Base Autos:

1. Geno Smith – $56.00
2. EJ MAnual – $40.00
3. Tavon Austin – $38.54
4. Cordarrelle Patterson – $36.00
5. Le’Veon Bell – $33.00
6. Matt Barkley – $30.00
7. Montee Ball – $28.00
8. Eddie Lacy – $24.99
9. Giovani Bernard – $21.90
10. Landry Jones – $19.99
10. Marcus Lattimore – $19.99
12. Ryan Nassib – $19.95
13. DeAndre Hopkins – $18.27
14. Joseph Randle – $18.01
15. Johnathan Franklin – $18.00
16. Aaron Dobson – $17.51
17. Tyler Eifert – $17.16
18. Denard Robinson – $15.50
19. Quinton Patton – $15.00
20. Robert Woods – $14.50

So now what do we do with this data? Well, I’ve added each player’s two best finishes together and then ranked them from lowest to highest. What we end up with is a ranking of each rookie drawn from all Ebay sales within the past 60 days across three popular sets.

Top 20 Rookies: Training Camp

1. Geno Smith 1, 1, 1 = 2
2. EJ Manual 2, 2, 2 = 4
3. Eddie Lacy 3, 4, 8 = 7
4. Tavon Austin 6, 6, 3 = 9
5. Matt Barkley 5, 5, 6 =10
6. Montee Ball 7, 6, 7 = 13
7. Marcus Lattimore 4, 14, 10 = 14
7. Le’Veon Bell 9, 13, 5 = 14
9. Cordarrelle Patterson 11, 12, 4 = 15
10. Denard Robinson 8, 8, 18 =16
11. Giovani Bernard 13, 17, 9 = 22
12. Ryan Nassib 11, 12 = 23
13. Landry Jones 14, 20, 10 = 24
14. Joseph Randle 14, 16 = 30
14. DeAndre Hopkins 17, 18, 13 = 30
16. Tyler Eifert 16, 15, 17 = 31
17. Quinton Patton 19, 20 = 39
18. Manti Te’o (courtesy of 3rd place in Leaf Metal)
19. Tyrann Mathieu (courtesy of 9th place in Leaf Metal)
20. Markus Wheaton (courtesy of 10th place in Bowman)

Take Aways:

– Despite falling to the 2nd round, despite displaying a horrible draft day attitude, despite going to the Jets, despite Rex Ryan saying they plan to use him as a “change of pace,” Geno Smith is STILL the highest selling rookie in this year’s class! I really don’t know what to say about this other than we as collectors are idiots.
– Pittsburgh collectors are CRAZY! Le’Veon Bell is a seriously talented back who should rightly have Steeler fans giddy, but Landry Jones and Markus Wheaton? Oh well, if you pull one of these guys, sell now before reality hits the Steel City.
– Giants fans are slightly less crazy (but still very crazy) with their infatuation with Nassib. The Syracuse QB has much more potential than Landry Jones and in the long run it could be worth it to hang on to his stuff, but the truth is his prices will likely never be higher.
– Maybe the running back isn’t as close to extinction as we feared. Six of the top fourteen rookies will be taking handoffs regularly. (Seven if you count Denard Robinson, aka, the “Offensive Weapon.”)
– Most overpriced rookies? (Aside from Geno) Eddie Lacy, Marcus Lattimore, Denard Robinson, Ryan Nassib, Landry Jones, and Joseph Randle. Lacy still has to beat out Johnathan Franklin for the starting job and even then there is no promise that Green Bay will FINALLY have a running game. Lattimore is currently an injured 3rd string RB whose potential lies largely in 2014 – that’s a lot of “ifs” for the seventh-highest selling rookie. Nassib and Jones are backups, nothing more. Robinson is exciting, but he plays for the Jaguars and his popularity is mainly a carry over from his college heroics at Michigan. Although DeMarco Murray will probably go down with an injury again at some point this season, Randle isn’t even the backup at the moment with reports coming from training camp that former North Texas running back Lance Dunbar has currently earned the backup spot.
– The most surprising omissions from this list? I’d have to say Tyler Wilson (hands down), followed by Robert Woods, Johnathan Franklin, Justin Hunter, and Terrance Williams.

– The Frenzy

Dueling Autos: The Dangers of Rookie Dual Autos

I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for multi-autograph cards.

When I got back into the hobby in 2011, my biggest surprise was when I discovered that you could buy a box of cards and be guaranteed to pull an autograph or four. Then I discovered that you could actually pull cards signed by multiple players and my eyes glazed over. Now I realize this is old news to most of you and I have come to my sense a bit. In fact, I only own one dual auto card: a 2011 Topps Chrome Cam Newton/Jake Locker auto that I pulled from a box last Christmas.

I have had my eye on several dual (or triple or quad) auto cards in the past few months, though I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. What all of my window shopping has taught is that there is a huge risk when it comes to buying rookie dual autos (RDAs).

*The following does not apply to veteran dual autos. Obviously, if you buy a Joe Namath/Joe Montana or Tom Brady/Peyton Manning auto, you know exactly what you are getting. This post is for those who get caught in prospecting or, like me, are tempted by new releases like Inception and its RDAs.

When it comes to RDAs, there are really four combinations that companies usually go with:

1. Team Legend/Rookie – These are by far the safest RDAs to pick up because even in the absolute worst of cases, you are still holding an NFL legend’s autograph. If the rookie turns out to be a scrub it will almost always bring the price down, but if one player is Curtis Painter, the other will always be Peyton Manning. And that will always be worth something.

 

2. College Teammates – These RDAs aren’t as safe as those featuring a legendary player, but, depending on the university the players attended, there will always be a market for these cards. No one knows if Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson will be in the league long enough to see their second contract, but Tennessee fans and alumni will always have room in their collections for this card:

2013 Inception Dual Autograph – Hunter/Patterson

Same with Alabama fans:

2011 Inception Dual Autograph – Ingram/Jones

And T. Boone Pickens would glad part ways with a bit of his fortune for this card:

2012 Inception Dual Autograph – Weeden/Blackmon

 

3. NFL Teammates – Now it gets tricky. While there will always be huge team collectors out there, once you get a few years down the road, unless both players see serious playing time, no one is really going to care. As a Cowboys fan, would I really pay for an Antonio Bryant/Jamar Martin RDA? No. The fact is, the odds of a team selecting two quality players of similar enough positions to warrant a RDA is very low. So be careful pick up cards like this one:

2013 Inception Dual Autograph – Ellington/Taylor (Cardinals RBs)

 

4. Same Position – Ah, the riskiest of them all! These cards pair of rookies who have absolutely nothing in common other than the position they play. Take this Terrance WIlliams/Quinton Patton RDA for example:

2013 Inception Dual Autograph – WIlliams/Patton

Who is going to be interested in this card five seasons from now? Baylor fans? Louisiana Tech fans? 49ers? Cowboys? Unless both player defy the odds and break out in big ways, no one is going to care about this card. Now, it is certainly possible for two players with completely different fan bases to succeed:

2001 Topps Dual Autograph – Vick/Brees

2012 Inception Dual Autograph – Luck/Griffin

…but the odds are highly against this. So be very careful when you come across a card like this:

2013 Inception Dual Autograph – Barkley/Smith

Because even if one of them succeeds wildly, you’re still left with a card that looks like this:

2007 Finest Dual Autograph – Russell/Peterson

 

In short, if your tempted by the RDAs popping up on Ebay every day, remember to always identify who is going to care about this card – namely, yourself. Are you a collector of a certain team? Then why are you buying a card that has your guy and another random player? Are you hoping the other guy will break out and increase the value of the card? Not a sound strategy. When it comes to collecting RDAs, as with collecting and life in general, the key is to first, “Know Thyself.”

And of course there will always be ridiculousness like this, but that’s a whole other story…

– The Frenzy

 

 

 

Chinese Food and Mascots

(NFL training camps are starting up around the league, so I’ll soon be diving into more serious articles about products, prospects, predictions, and professorial perspectives pertaining to our hobby…..but for now I’ll indulge in one more perfunctory post.)

The other night, as I sat at our local Asian buffet with my wife, we began discussing professional sports teams’ mascots and which U.S. cities had an identifiable theme among their pro teams. She then asked me why some cities had team mascots that either didn’t make sense or that stuck out like a sore thumb next to the other three teams. This began a long discussion in which renamed most of the offending teams in between bites of dangerously cheap sushi.

We managed to avoid illness that night and my hope is that articles doesn’t sicken you either. I realize that I will be treading on some sacred cows in audacity to rename these teams, many of whom have been around fifty years longer than I have been alive.

What I’ve done is put together a list of the NFL cities with three or more of the Big Four sports represented (excluding New York because there are just to many teams that call the Big Apple home) along with that city’s theme. Four cities have pulled off a tangible theme across all four sports, but most need to change one or two mascots to bring things into line.

First, the four cities that get it right:

4. Miami: Florida Wildlife
NFL – Dolphins
MLB – Marlins
NBA – Heat
NHL – Panthers

3. Phoenix: Desert Wildlife
NFL – Cardinals
MLB – Diamondbacks
NBA – Suns
NHL – Coyotes

2. Denver: Rocky Mountains
NFL – Broncos
MLB – Rockies
NBA – Nuggets
NHL – Avalanche

1. Dallas: The Wild West
NFL – Cowboys
MLB – Rangers
NBA – Mavericks
NHL – Stars

 

Ok, now for the rest..

 

Washington: Government
NFL – Redskins become the Filibusters.
MLB – Nationals
NBA – Wizards become the Lobbyists. (An AWESOME name for a basketball team)
NHL – Capitals

Minneapolis: Norse Culture
NFL – Vikings
MLB – Twins become the Seafarers.
NBA – Timberwolves.
NHL – Wild become the Ragnarok.

Detroit: Motor City
NFL – Lions become the Racers.
MLB – Tigers become the Blue Collars.
NBA – Pistons
NHL – Red Wings

Boston: Tough one here. Could go with either patriotism or immigrant diversity. I’m a football guy, so let’s go with patriotism.
NFL – Patriots
MLB – Red Sox become the Commons.
NBA – Celtics become the Revolutionaries. (or Revs for short)
NHL – Bruins become the Rebels.

Chicago: Bears or large North American mammals
NFL – Bears
MLB – Cubs
NBA – Bulls might become the Grizzlies. (Sorry Memphis)
NHL – Blackhawks become either the Kodiaks or the Bison.

Philadelphia: Continental Congress
NFL – Eagles
MLB – Phillies
NBA – 76ers
NHL – Flyers become the Founders

Oakland: Angry people who come and take your things
NFL – Raiders
MLB – Athletics become the Marauders.
NBA – Warriors

San Francisco: The Bay
NFL – 49ers
MLB – Giants become the Prospectors.
NHL – Sharks becomes the Aftershocks.

Houston: Space
NFL – Texans become the Apollos.
MLB – Astros
NBA – Rockets

Atlanta: Birds?
NFL – Falcons
MLB – Braves become the Starlings. (with Buffleheads coming in second)
NBA – Hawks

Cleveland: I know the popular pick would be “futility,” but let’s go with Rock’n Roll
NFL – Browns become the Crickets. (Buddy Holly’s band.)
MLB – Indians become the Rockers.
NBA – Cavaliers become the Riffs.

Pittsburgh: Blue collar jobs, with an affinity for black and yellow
NFL – Steelers
MLB – Pirates become the Riveters.
NHL – Penguins become the Scrappers.

…………and now that I’ve irritated three fourths of you either by my irreverence or my lack of creativity, feel free to chime in and let me know what you think or if you have a better name yourself.

I’m making like a bird…Sports Card Frenzy is on Twitter!

Follow me at @IAmTheFrenzy

We’ll see how this whole experiment goes, but I’ve got a few autographs and other nice cards I’d like to give away. So maybe we’ll see some contests here in the future. Stay tuned!

“You mean people actually read these things?” – Bringing back the back.

When I collected as a kid, I had a selection of maybe five games to watch each weekend and the internet was still largely science fiction. I was actually excited for the two years that my parents got the Dallas Morning News because it meant that I could read recaps of every game. Despite these handicaps, I knew EVERYTHING about the NFL during those years. Why? Because I had my cards – with all the commentary, biographical information, and statistics I could want. I knew all of Jake Plummer’s college stats. I knew how many yards Napolean Kaufman rushed for against AFC West teams. I knew why Troy Aikman transferred from Oklahoma to UCLA. All because I studied the backs of my cards as a nerdy 12 year old. In fact, as far as I was concerned, the front of the card was just a picture – the back of the card held the real value. If the player was a rookie, I could see their statistics for all four years (five if they red-shirted) of college, see where they went to high school, read what scouts thought of them, and maybe even find out if they had a hidden talent. For twelve-year veterans, sometimes they would forgo any text at all and just give you their stats for all twelve years. Of course, they would make sure to note which categories they led the league in for each year. Even if the card design prohibited large text boxes, card companies still got creative and gave collectors valuable information – how the player did against division rivals, how their stats compared to the league average or against an older team legend, etc. It was great.

Examples:
1998 Topps – Warren Moon
1997 Upper Deck – Barry Sanders
1996 Summit – Napolean Kaufman

Compare those with something like recent versions of Topps Prime and you’ll see a huge difference:

2011 Topps Prime – Peyton Manning

The backs of these cards have the same feel as blank index cards. No photo. Plain white background. Two sentences of player info. A single year’s worth of stats. A tiny team logo graphic at the bottom. Now I am not saying that companies have completely given up, but their efforts have noticeably lagged. This is largely because, whether we have slowly been conditioned by the companies Illumanti-style or we have brought it upon ourselves, collectors have largely come to see cards as one-sided pieces of cardboard. As long as the front looks good, some collectors never even flip their card over unless it’s to check for a serial number (and with more and more cards putting the serial number on the front, even this is slowing down). On one hand, putting all the focus on the front of the card makes it simpler to scan cards ad sell/trade them online, but it robs them of a valuable element.

What is most concerning is how the proliferation of patches and autographs have shifted the focus so far to the front of the card that some companies have actually given up on putting anything of worth on the back. Seemingly half the auto/relic cards today come with little more than “Congratulations. You have received an authentic…” and even that claim is often dubious. I have had fortune cookies tell me more than most of the autographed cards I own. Especially egregious are sticker-autographed cards in this vein. It almost excusable for a hard-signed card to devote its back to telling the collector about the rigorous, in-person authentication steps taken by the company (yes, I’m laughing while I type this) to ensure the authenticity of the autograph, but it is truly pathetic to waste those precious 8.75 square inches of cardboard on the reverse just to tell me that I have received an “authentic autograph” (notice how they cannot say “authentic autographed card”) on a sticker that they have no way of verifying.

It saddens me that, whereas I spent more time looking at the backs of my cards than the fronts as a child, the most valuable cards being chased each year now have virtually nothing on the back. I do realize that with the advent of Twitter and 24/7 coverage by companies like ESPN that today’s fan can get 1000x as much information just by checking their smart phone. I also realize that the rise of fantasy football has led many serious fans (and gamblers, sigh) to study statistics to a greater depth than any sports card could provide. Yet it still feels as though the hobby has lost something. Even if companies can’t compete with the information provided by other sources, they can use their creativity to put their own spin on information the average fan might not hear about. Even surface-level research turns up personal stories about the players that may not be sensational enough to end up on ESPN or give someone an edge in placing their next fantasy wager, but can go a long way towards restoring the human element of the game. It was through sports cards that I learned that Michael Irvin grew up with 16 other siblings, that Jerry Rice helped his father lay bricks as a child, and that Troy Aikman developed his crooked smile as a child trying to hide a front tooth he had cracked. In an era which many players don’t even put an effort into signing the autographs that drive collectors crazy, it would be nice if the companies would that extra mile and bring a little more of the human element back to their cards.

– The Frenzy

2014 Draft Peek Ahead

You would think with as much as I love prospecting and attempting to gaze into the future that I would be a baseball collector, but, alas, fate has determined that I obsess over those athletes who take their place upon the gridiron. Now that we’ve entered into that period between early products (Leaf and Bowman) and the good products (Topps Chrome), there’s really nothing else to do except look ahead. Hence this essay and its predecessor.

Jumping right in…2014’s draft will likely be the polar opposite of this year’s. Whereas the 2012 Draft produced offensive talent early and often, and the 2013 Draft will likely have produced its offensive talent later rather than sooner, the 2014 Draft is shaping up to be the kind of event that will produce intense interest, but be over after the first 15-20 picks. This “drop off draft” will be the result of a few once-in-a-generation talents cropping up in an otherwise mediocre draft. Obviously things change over the course of a year, but as things stand now we’ll have three quarterbacks, one wide receiver (maybe two), a defensive playmaker…..and everyone else. Let’s begin!

– DE, Jadeveon Clowney: Card companies are going to have a dilemma on their hands next year. Who do they put on the box of their product: a quarterback or the single most dominant force to step onto a football field in (according to many) decades? I can still remember the day Clowney committed to South Carolina and giggling at his last name. Well, I have long since stopped laughing. Anyone who followed college football at all this past bowl season saw the hit he laid on a certain Michigan RB. I could feel the whiplash through my TV screen. Scouting reports on Clowney read more like those Fifty Shades of Gray novels than boring facts and figures. In fact, it is commonly acknowledged that Clowney could sit this year out, live in the gym, and still go number one in the 2014 draft. The absolute worst position a team with the first pick could find themselves in next year would be to need a quarterback AND not already have Clowney on their roster.

– QB, Teddy Bridgewater: One scout flat out said that Bridgewater was the best QB prospect he’d ever scouted other than Andrew Luck. He made a point to note that this included scouting Robert Griffin III. Now I’ll be honest, with Bridgewater playing in the Big East, I hadn’t seen him play until his bowl game against Florida. I sensed a little hesitation in him being on such a big stage, but, if the scouts can be believed, he’s the real deal. Even with the other quarterbacks on this list, the consensus is that he’ll be the first offensive player off the board and should go no lower than third overall.

– QB, Tahj Boyd: I like Boyd. I’ve seen him play several times and he’s both a baller and a winner. A lot of scouts compare him to Russell Wilson due to his size and leadership skills, but there’s a reason why Wilson fell to the third round and Boyd is predicted to go in the first – Boyd has more physical skills and is a better passer. (Coming out of school, of course) The best thing about Boyd compared to the other quarterbacks on this list is that he doesn’t have nearly as much of a “bust” factor. His ceiling may not be quite as high as the other two, but there’s very little doubt that he’ll be successful to some degree in the league. If I was picking in the 2014 Draft, Boyd would be the QB I would go after.

– QB, Johnny Manziel: “Johnny Football.” What can be written that hasn’t already been written? (He’s dating both the Olsen twins?) As the player who turned the SEC, the Heisman voting committee, and college football as a whole on its head, Manziel will hands down be the most polarizing prospect in the 2014 Draft and in any draft since Tim Tebow in 2010. While draft experts are divided over Manziel’s ability to translate into the NFL, what is agreed upon is that some team will buy into the hype and spend a high pick on him. if Clowney doesn’t go number one, it will likely be due to Manziel. Like Bridgewater, unless he implodes in the spotlight this year, expect him to go in the top three.

– WR, Marqise Lee: I wrote below that Robert Woods is the most NFL-ready WR to enter the league in years so it seems grossly unfair that new Eagles QB Matt Barkley got to spend his USC career pitching the ball to both Woods and the most talented WR to enter the league since Calvin Johnson in Marqise Lee. Last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner, Lee has a fantastic shot at repeating and again being the nation’s top WR. A true deep threat who catches everything thrown his way, Lee possesses the vision, route-running ability, and instinct to be a dominant WR in the league from Week 1. If Lee goes to team with even a decent quarterback, he’ll be a top-5 WR within two years. He has the potential, along with Clowney, to be something truly special on Sundays.

– WR, Sammy Watkins: I almost left Watkins out. While not as talented as Lee, if Watkins continues to develop his connection with Tahj Boyd at Clemson, he could easily distance himself from the rest of the pack and make it Lee, Watkins, and everybody else when it comes to 2014’s WRs. A charismatic playmaker in every sense, if Watkins can stay healthy, big things await and he should be the second receiver off the board even if he only maintains the status quo this coming season.

After these five or six players though, expect to see quite a talent drop off. Quarterbacks like AJ McCarron, Logan Thomas, David Fales, and Derek Carr will each have their moments in the spotlight, but none of them possess near the talent of the three listed above. The drop off is even more pronounce at wide receiver where a vast gulf separates Lee and Watkins from the dozens of other relatively unheralded receivers who will likely have to wait until the third round or later. Sadly, the running back position will be a crapshoot and one that teams will likely care little about as they continue to phase out the every-down back from offenses. Guys like Lache Seastrunk of Baylor, Ka’deem Carey of Arizona, and De.Anthony Thomas of Oregon might have been hyped prospects in the early 2000s, but that’s no longer the case and we could actually see another first round pass without a single RB being selected.

So what does this mean for collectors? it means enjoy the mystery and potential of this year’s oddball class. There are no right or wrong prospects as Denard Robinson has just as much chance to break out as Geno Smith. 365 days from now, we collectors will probably all be bottlenecked into chasing the same half dozen first round prospects. This may be a comforting thought to some, but it won’t be nearly as much fun.

– The Frenzy

 

2013 Draft: Early vs Late Rounds (A collector’s perspective)

Many people have made the case that late round draft picks aren’t worth it. *cough* CFN – TRADE YOUR LATE DRAFT PICKS *cough* The argument goes that finding All-Pro talent outside of the top 100 picks just doesn’t happen and any collector hoping to hit on the next Brady or Romo is throwing their money away. Collectors generally make their money on first and second round picks with the remaining players usually ending up in “scrub rookie” boxes, maybe in a penny sleeve if they’re lucky. These rookies are usually bought and sold for very low prices. However, this past draft was a fairly odd one that defied several recent draft trends and was, by most accounts, a very disappointing one for collectors due to its lack of high round offensive talent. But what if the rookies found in the later (and cheaper) rounds had just as much or more potential than those in the early rounds? Wouldn’t that make 2013 a great year for collectors? (Maybe not for the rippers and flippers, but certainly for singles buyers!) So, given its strange nature, let us put aside our tears over a single QB going in the first round and critically examine the 2013 Draft in terms of collectability.

Rounds 1-2                                                 Rounds 3-Undrafted

QB                                                                       QB
EJ Manual                                                          Mike Glennon
Geno Smith                                                        Matt Barkley
…                                                                          Ryan Nassib
…                                                                          Tyler Wilson
…                                                                          Zac Dysert
…                                                                          Tyler Bray

Geno was the top prospect in this draft going back to the middle of last year’s college football season. Heading into the final weeks before the draft, many still had him as the #1 pick. Early releases like Leaf Draft Metal reflected this consensus in Geno’s prices and, even after his Brady Quinn-esque fall to the second round, many sellers have been hesitant to adjust their prices to meet reality. Manual going in the first round was one of the biggest surprises of the draft, but his prices still haven’t even reached the level of Geno. However, both Geno and Manual were recognized before the draft for having a high “boom or bust” potential and both heading to New York teams not named the Giants only accentuates this risk. The odds are one of them will bust the same way Jamarcus Russell and Vince Young did (harsh, I know), leaving only one prospect to carve out a successful career. Out of the two, I like Manual’s odds. Playing with talent like CJ Spiller and young wideouts in Woods, Goodwin, and even undrafted Rogers will make life easier in addition to playing in the city with the longest current playoff drought means that ANY level of success will be rewarded with interest from collectors.

However, if we look beyond the first two rounds, a much more exciting picture emerges. Both Wilson and Barkley have veterans in front of them in Oakland and Philadelphia, but I don’t know of anyone who is betting on either Matt Flynn or Michael Vick being starters by the end of the season, let alone next season. Wilson has first round talent and certainly would have been off the board before the first round ended had the University of Arkansas not imploded like a Kardashian marriage last season. However, Wilson was able to stand tough and absorb the hits both on and off the field like a pro. He’s a baller who, even if his talent doesn’t translate into the win column, will likely become a cult hero to rowdy Oakland faithful who value toughness almost as much as Al Davis valued speed. Barkley would have been a first round pick last year. (Think about that: Luck, RG3, Barkley, Tannehill, Weeden, Wilson…) He didn’t forget how to play football last season. Some have worried about how he might fit into Chip Kelly’s new offense, but remember, Kelly prepped for and watched film on Barkley each of the USC quarterback’s career – he knew exactly who he was drafting. As a Cowboys fan, Barkley worries me. Moving down the list, no one is particularly excited about Glennon, but everyone acknowledges that he will get his shot at being a starting QB. Possibly even at some point this year. For a team with a shaky QB situation, if Glennon is only competent, he could be a 5+ year starter, but it’s hard to see him ever competing with Brees, Newton, and Ryan in the NFC South. Nassib screams backup, but probably a good one. Eli’s not going anywhere and Giants fans have to feel good about the backup they’ll be developing. Then we get to guys like Dysert and Bray. Although Dysert went in the seventh round and Bray went undrafted due to “maturity issues,” both are in fantastic spots and possess the raw talent to take advantage. The Broncos are incredibly young and Peyton Manning is, well, not young. When Manning retires or goes down with another injury (hopefully not), it will be a two-man race between Dysert and Osweiler for the keys to the NFL’s second-most talented team. Call it an even sprint at the moment as both Dysert and Osweiler were one-year wonders in college and have huge upsides, but when you can pick up autos of a player like Dysert who’s got a 50/50 chance of leading the Broncos for dirt cheap you do it. As for Bray, he’s seen as a guy with a million-dollar arm and a ten cent head, but he finds himself playing for Andy Reid’s club in Kansas City. When you have All-Pro level physical tools and you’re being coached by Andy Reid, good things usually happen. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy in front of you is Alex Smith.

Overall, I give this one to the later round guys. Manual and Geno are so risky and the late rounders so talented that it doesn’t make any sense for collectors not to buy up guys like Wilson, Barkley, or Dysert. If you’re looking for low-risk investments, this is the perfect draft.

RB                                                                   RB
Gio Bernard                                                  Knile Davis
Le’Veon Bell                                                 Johnathan Franklin
Montee Ball                                                 Marcus Lattimore
Eddie Lacy                                                   Stepfan Taylor
Christine Michael                                        Joseph Randle
…                                                                    Zac Stacy
…                                                                    Kenjon Barner
…                                                                    Rex Burkhead

Now it gets a little closer, but I still give the edge to the late rounders. Bernard, Bell, Ball, and Lacy all find themselves in dream spots playing for high-powered offenses in search of a consistent running game. (Bernard and Lacy will have to fight off Burkhead and Franklin who were also drafted by same high-powered offenses, but more on that below.) Out of the five early rounders, Michael may have the most physical talent, but he’s also the least likely to earn a starting slot playing behind Marshawn Lynch. Couple this with his character concerns and the prospect of not being the starter makes him a risky bet. Out of the remaining four, I see Bell and Ball having the best careers. I watched a lot of film on Bernard and I just don’t see an explosive NFL back. Same with Lacy, who I see as being somewhere between Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, but much closer to Ingram.

For the late rounders, Lattimore is the most physically talented back in this draft and advances in ACL repairs (as evidenced by players like Adrian Peterson and RG3) gives hope that he’ll be able to display those talents by 2014 at the latest. It also doesn’t hurt that he is now recovering while on the roster of the most talented team in the league. A lot of collectors have figured this out, so Lattimore’s prices haven’t quite come down to where they should for an injured rookie which is a shame because I had hoped to pick up more than just a single auto of his. Johnathan Franklin is my personal favorite RB in this draft. After watching film on every top RB prospect, Franklin was the one that jumped out at me as having the speed, elusive, and second-effort toughness to be a star back in the league. (Think AP-lite and, yes, you can quote me on that) I believe Franklin will beat out Lacy, especially running a fast paced offense like the Packers do. Lacy may end up with more touches down around the goal line this season, but Franklin will produce more highlight runs and his contributions will entrench him as the starter by 2014.

Moving down the list, I’d put Taylor and Randle up against whoever the third best early rounders ends up being (likely Bernard). Taylor is a tough, tough runner who will likely struggle playing for a team like Arizona, but Randle fell into a great spot when the Cowboys picked him up. DeMarco Murray has Top-10 talent for a RB, but his injury history means that Randle find himself being called to take pressure off of Romo and the high-powered Cowboy’s passing attack by the end of the season. Out of the remaining backs, Barner and Burkhead standout the most. Barner is a home-run style speed back who knows how to play well in an offense centered around a running quarterback. If Cam Newton can take the next step in his development, the gaps will be there for Barner against defenses like the Saints, Falcons, and Buccaneers. As for Burkhead, if Franklin is my favorite back, then consider Burkhead 1B. Several draft sites actually had him ranked among the Top 3 for RBs depending on the metrics used and many had him ranked #1 when it came to “explosiveness.” Burkhead is a special back with his combination of speed, power, and work ethic. He may not take the starting role away from Bernard, but he’s going to be in the league a long time and will always have a solid fan base coming from Nebraska.

WR                                                           WR
Tavon Austin                                           Terrance Williams
DeAndre Hopkins                                  Keenan Allen
Cordarrelle Patterson                           Marquise Goodwin
Justin Hunter                                         Marcus Wheaton
Robert Woods                                         Stedman Bailey
Aaron Dobson                                        Ace Sanders
…                                                               Josh Boyce
…                                                               Quinton Patton
…                                                               Denard Robinson
…                                                               Da’Rick Rogers

And now the pendulum swings. Frankly, there is just too much talent between Austin, Hopkins, Patterson, and Woods for this to go any other way. Either Austin or Patterson is going to blow up and my bet is on Austin. With a receiving corps of Austin, Bailey, Chris Givens, and Brian Quick, Sam Bradford should finally be able to become the #1 pick he was suppose to be and Austin should be the primary beneficiary of this maturity. Patterson has Randy Moss-level talent, but he has Christian Ponder throwing to him, not Daunte Culpepper in his prime. Howpkins is in the best position of any WR drafted, slotted to be the #2 receiver opposite Andre Johnson, and has more than enough talent to shine. Woods is the most polished, mature, and NFL-ready WR to come into the league in years, though he likely won’t get the hype or recognition he deserves playing in Buffalo with a rookie QB. Expect him to be Manual or Kevin Kolb’s safety blanket by the end of the season and for the 8+ years. If Woods had gone to a team like New England or San Francisco we wouldn’t even be having this discussion – he would be the most sure-fire rookie in the draft.

There is plenty of intrigue in the later rounds guys, but it’s just that – intrigue. With the exception of Williams and maybe Rogers, none of the other WRs have put things together like the guys at the top of the draft. Williams led the nation in receiving after RG3 left school and consistently produced in a major conference his entire collegiate career. Known as locker room leader with a strong work ethic and an anti-diva personality, Williams will get to line up opposite of Dez Bryant in the Cowboy’s passing attack. He will likely push Miles Austin into the slot receiver position and could easily be the #2 receiver when Austin’s contract expires after the season. Rogers is a first round talent and his going undrafted was as big of a surprise as Manual going in the first round. Character issues are what turned teams off, but going undrafted (from the early reports) may have been the best thing that could have happened to Rogers as he appears focus and determined to show the league what they passed on. Don’t be shocked if Rogers blows up. Allen is Hopkins’ equal talent-wise, but he’s playing in San Diego and he’s got some knuckle-head issues. Goodwin has world-class speed, but is still learning how to play WR as a former (Olympic) track guy. Sanders is the mini-me version of the already small Austin. Robinson is a fascinating prospect who is being listed as on OW or “offensive weapon” by the Jaguars and will always have a strong fan base in Michigan due to his collegiate heroics. As a player who can run, throw, and catch, he has a puncher’s chance at setting the NFL on fire for a season or so until defenses adjust and could have a career similar to Kordell Stewart in the mid-1990s. Among these later guys, the best bets are (in order) Williams, Rogers, and Robinson.

TE                                                           TE
Tyler Eifert                                           Travis Kelce
Zach Ertz                                              Dion Sims
Gavin Escobar                                     Levine Toilolo
Vance McDonald                                Luke Wilson

Again, too much talent in the first two rounds. Eifert and Escobar are both behind fantastic veterans in Jermaine Gresham and Jason Witten, but they will both see heavy playing time this season and both should become stars in their respective offenses. Ertz and McDonald are both solid prospects who should have 4+ year NFL careers, but there’s not too much to get excited about. Overall this wasn’t a huge draft for TEs. Among the later round guys, only Luke Wilson stands out from a pure potential standpoint. He played behind McDonald at Rice, but was talented enough that Pete Carroll and the Seahawks still drafted him. He’s purely a project, but he’d have to succeed at a Tony Gonalez level (not likely) to swing this in favor of the later rounds.

So what does this all mean for collectors? Well, it means that for the position by which collectors judge any draft, quarterback, this is a fantastic draft to pick up singles. Guys like Manual and Geno will almost certainly never reach higher prices and, at this time, seem like only a great way to throw your money away. Guys like Wilson, Barkley, and Bray, can be had for much cheaper and offer as good, if not better, potential to become stars. Even in the secondary positions like running back and wide receiver, the later rounds provide a nice counter option to the high-priced guys like Lacy and Austin with players like Franklin, Burkhead, Rogers, and Robinson. As for busting wax, this is a terrible terrible terrible TERRIBLE year to try your luck buying boxes! If I myself had not been able to get in on Topps Chrome when it listed at $800 a case, I wouldn’t be buying ANY product this year. I have, however, had a great time picking up singles and have already completed Leaf Metal full rainbows of Terrance Williams and Tyler Wilson. It will be almost impossible for this year’s class to live up to the classes of 2011 and 2012, but I do believe that we will see a few star offensive players emerge. It always happens. The difference is I believe that, for once, there is just as much potential for these stars to come from the later and cheaper rounds as from the overpriced first two rounds. And that should make a lot of collectors very happy.

– The Frenzy

Who is this blog for?

I realize that there are about as many different types of collectors as there are parallels in Topps Chrome (too many and ever-expanding). However, the vast majority of collectors can be categorized within a few groups:

– Rippers & Flippers: These people enjoy the hobby, but are also focused on making a profit or at least breaking even with their hobby purchases. While they may miss out on some of the pure enjoyment of collecting due to their focus on profit margins, they serve a valuable function in the hobby by hosting group breaks and busting the wax that allows other collectors to the singles they desire so cheaply.

– Gamblers: These people are in the hobby solely to make a buck. Some utilize research methods that rival any Wall Street stockbroker. Others throw their money around with desperation akin to a drunk buying scratch-offs at a 7-11.

– Whales: These are the super rich collectors to whom the hobby is just another way to display their wealth. Many collected when they were young and truly love the hobby. Others see purchasing a perfect 10 Jordan XRC the same as purchasing a sports car or a bottle of rare wine. Regardless of their motivation, whales have needs and abilities far different from the average collector. (Though it can be quite fun to watch them bust twelve boxes of product looking for the case hit.)

– Addicts: For some people, collecting cards is just another area in their life in which they have lost control. They purchase cards they cannot afford, don’t need, or maybe even already have.

– Fans: These individuals are far more devoted to a team or player than to a brand. To them, collecting cards is just another means to display their loyalty along with their jerseys, helmets, ticket stubs, cable packages, and (often) tattoos. They like collecting, but they love their team.

– Purists: These collectors collect for no other reason than the enjoyment they get from hunting, trading, completing, organizing, and displaying their collections. They watch the games whenever they can, follow different players, and try to make sensible deals, but to them the hobby is neither a peripheral interest nor a profit mechanism – it’s just a hobby. And they love it.

– N00bs: Aside from those who began collecting prior to 1990, we’ve all been this collector at one point. This person is either just making their first foray into the hobby or (like me) rediscovering what they had once enjoyed as a child. These collectors are making an honest attempt to get their feet on the ground in a deceptively bewildering world. Things like PSA vs BGS, oncard vs sticker autos, shadowboxes, licensing wars, “event-worn” jerseys, and the realization that their thousands of 1990 Score cards are worthless can make their head spin. Their questions are often met with scorn on the message boards, but, with a little luck, they will meet more mature collectors who will show them the ins and outs of the hobby.

Now, with classifications out of the way, who is this blog for? What is its purpose? My goal is writing this blog is to provide resources and perspectives to ANY collector who wants to:

– Understand why they collect and why they collect what they do.

– Assemble a collection that they will always be proud to own and that their children, whether they collect or not, will recognize as something worth respecting.

– Assemble a collection that will have a lasting value beyond sentimentality. I dread the thought of someone spending thousands of dollars and countless hours putting together a collection that, twenty years later, they look at and realize that could now purchase the same cards for 1/100 the cost and effort – effectively negating all of the work they had put into it.

This is what I hope to accomplish with this blog. Understanding. Respectability. Value. A solid grasp of these three elements allows any collector to assemble a collection which they can guiltlessly show to their non-collecting friends and family without drawing the strange looks that often appear when someone discovers how much time and money we collectors often put into our collections.

– The Frenzy