Of course I'm super high on Trevor Lawrence rookie cards, Zach Wilson rookie cards, Trey Lance rookie cards and Justin Fields rookie cards, and I've pre-ordered several of them from Panini, Leaf / Pro Set and I even scored the recent Trevor Lawrence Exclusive Topps Set from Topps.com, but I'm here to tell you about the top sleeper sports cards from the 2021 NFL Draft.
To understand the concept of what a "sleeper" is, you have to understand fantasy sports. NoOffseason.com was a fantasy football website from 2006-2011, where I wrote 3-5 times a day about how to win your dynasty fantasy football leagues. In many respects, collecting NFL cards is very similar to trying to plan out a dynasty fantasy football roster.
Because I wrote more than 5,000 dynasty fantasy football articles in my 20s, you can imagine as I approach 40, there's some irony here, but also a ton of passion.
A "sleeper," for those of you who don't know, is a bit of a long shot. A guy you predict will rise in performance and/or value - and the OR is very important here - over the next three to six months.
You see, in Sports Cards, much like dynasty fantasy football, a player's perceived future opportunity for performance is equally as important as his actually on the field play.
So, even if a player doesn't perform well (or hasn't played in a game yet), their perceived opportunity for future performance results in their VALUE.
The following players are the less obvious choices to have a solid VALUE increase in their sports cards as a result of the 2021 NFL Draft.
First, I'll start with honorable mentions, because a ton of shit happens in the NFL at a constant rate.
Honorable Mention - Nelson Agholor or someone from the New England Patriots' receiving corps. There was a reason I didn't mention Alabama's Mac Jones in the opening paragraph of this post. I was saving him for here. While many people knew where Lawrence and Wilson would go, not as many predicted the Patriots would end up with Jones. With Cam Newton still there, Jones' rookie cards themselves may take a while to truly materialize in value, but the long term value of SOMEONE in the Patriots receiving corps, be it Agholor, N'Keal Harry (former first round pick), TE Jonnu Smith who came over from the Tennessee Titans, or someone else, keep an eye on this situation for sleeper NFL Cards.
Nelson Agholor Rookie 2015 Panini Prizm Rookies Silver Prizm #272
I'm not telling you to buy Nelson Agholor Rookie Cards right now, but they can be had for super cheap on eBay, including a Beckett Auto Gold Parallel BGS 9.5 for $50 or less here. So if you're a believer in what I'm saying or just a competitive card collector like me and want to have some skin the game on a fun prediction or two, pony up some cash for some or all of these guys and see what happens. Even better, if you're buying NFL sealed wax of any kind in 2021, holding it to see which rookie that ends up on the Patriots in several years catching passes from Jones isn't a bad long term plan for a competitive card collector with massive patience. Yes, that's how I think.
Nelson Agholor Topps On Card Autograph Rookie Card Gold Parallel RC 50 BGS 9.5
No, these cards aren't mine. 🙂
Here are your top five sleeper cards that will rise in value through the next year coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft.
DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars WR - Now, when I say sleeper, I mean "not super obvious." Everyone LOVES Laviska Shenault, Jr. for the same reason - rhymes with Schmever Schmorence - and I do too, but DJ Chark is getting overlooked big time here. Heading into his fourth year, he has been known to put up TDs (eight in his second season of 2019). His 2018 Prizm can be had for less than $9.99 on eBay right now and his Donruss Optic Rated Rookie for only $0.99. Shenualt is the obvious choice, but somehow Chark doesn't even register yet on SportsCardInvestor.com. That will change soon.
Remember, even if Chark doesn't perform, there will be enough hype around him come August that his card value will have increased quite a bit between now and then.
Corey Davis, New York Jets WR - An offseason signing that didn't make a lot of noise was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft Corey Davis signing with the New York Jets. Yes, you read that correctly, the former Tennessee Titan was the fifth overall pick in an NFL Draft. He hasn't been horrible, just overshadowed by A.J. Brown in Tennessee. He's only 26, and on March 18, he signed with the Jets on a three-year, $37.5 million contract. That's big enough money in a big enough market to draw some hype. Now, with Zach Wilson as the QB, Davis has a shot at being an interesting sleeper riser among competitive NFL card collectors this season and beyond. His 2017 Optic NFL Pink Prizm Holo Rated Rookie is less than $10 as of this writing and could make for a fun one to earn some bragging rights on come NFL Season.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants QB - After a solid rookie season in 2019 throwing for 3,000 yards, 24 TDs and 12 INTs, Jones sucked last year in New York and made many question why the Giants selected him sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. His cards have seen an increase in value a little bit this off-season, as the Giants added Kenny Golladay in free agency, and Saquon Barkley's knee injury recovery has reportedly gone well. Well, the Giants also passed on signal callers in Round 1, trading down to take Florida WR Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick. According to NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, Toney is ..."a speedy pass catcher is a roadrunner on the perimeter with exceptional stop-start quickness and burst. Toney is one of the few playmakers in the draft with the capacity to score from anywhere on the field on deep balls or catch-and-run plays."
With playmakers all around him, being in a big media market with tons of hype, I expect Jones' PSA 10 cards, which all fall less than $200 as of this writing, to potentially triple in value if he can put up solid numbers in 2021.
2019 Daniel Jones Panini Prizm Rookie Card (I don't own this but may have convinced myself to buy it).
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers WR - The Niners didn't hesitate to take Trey Lance, QB prospect from North Dakota State, with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Whether Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo is throwing the ball this season, Aiyuk was a standout in his rookie year last year, catching 60 balls for 748 yards and 7 TDs. His Silver Panini Prizm RC can be had for less than $40 as of this writing, and should be worth double that during this upcoming NFL Season.
Brandon Aiyuk Silver Panini Prizm RC
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens QB - The darling of the 2018 Rookie Class after winning NFL MVP in 2019, Jackson underperformed in the stat column in 2020, causing his card value to drop. He didn't have any weapons, really, and still led Baltimore to the playoffs. And, thanks to the Ravens adding Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman with the 27th overall pick, now he does. Brooks writes ..."Bateman is an enticing mix of A.J. Brown and Michael Thomas on the perimeter as a physical pass catcher with the capacity to play out wide or in the slot. He is true No. 1 receiver, and his underrated game could pop at the next level."
Enough said. I'm buying Jackson's rookie cards, especially his 2018 Donruss Base Rookie Card in PSA 10, which is going for less than $200 right now.
Lamar Jackson 2018 Donruss Base Rookie Card
Paul Hickey is a Digital Creator, spending about about 60% of his work time building WordPress websites for small businesses, 20% of his work time running an eCommerce Sports Cards and Digital Collectibles business at NoOffseason.com and another 20% of his work time authoring books and creating digital art in the form of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).
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