Dueling Autos: The Dangers of Rookie Dual Autos

by iamthefrenzy

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