After two seasons of missing the majority of the action, J.J. Watt has returned to the gridiron with the Houston Texans. Collectors love a good comeback story and if he returns to his earlier form – his cards may be poised for a surge in popularity and price.
The 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Watt is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. A dominant force throughout his career thus far, he battled a herniated disc in 2016 and suffered a leg injury last season – limiting him to just eight games over that span.
The Wisconsin native and former Badgers star is active off the field, too, gaining international notoriety for his charitable efforts in the wake of Hurricane that resulted in over $41 million in assistance.
J.J. Watt rookie cards date to a time when Topps still had an NFL license. Here’s a breakdown.
On cardboard, J.J. Watt has over 25 different rookie cards that collectors can try to acquire. The majority of them were found in Panini America releases in 2011 and they run the gamut from affordable to expensive – with many of them being limited in nature.
For those looking to just get their hands on a Watt rookie card without breaking the bank, consider those from brands such as Score, Prestige, or Crown Royale. Want to spend a little bit more? Well, be sure to search out those from tried-and-true Panini brands like Donruss Elite (/999), Certified (/999), and Gold Standard (/299). If you prefer something with a freshman year signature that still qualifies as a rookie card, check out those from Panini Playbook, Rookies & Stars, Timeless Treasures, and Totally Certified – all of which were numbered to 299.
Signed rookie cards which warrant a great deal of attention, though, are from long-standing brands like 2011 Playoff Contenders and Playoff National Treasures. The latter is his most limited as well, with only 99 copies produced and a clean look which some will find appealing. It is definitely the cornerstone of any J.J. Watt player collection and its limited nature make it a must-have – if you can find one once the season gets rolling.
Even though Topps no longer produces licensed NFL cards, the company was in full swing back in 2011 and it made several appealing cards.
In addition to the flagship Topps product, he was also featured in Topps Chrome, Bowman Sterling, Topps Legends, Topps Platinum, and Topps Rising Rookies. It should be noted that none of these cards features autographs or serial numbers, and are generally affordable options for a collector looking for some of his more affordable rookie issues.
Lots to Choose From
In addition to the 2011 J.J. Watt cards that are considered to be true rookie cards, there are plenty of early autographs in both NFL and collegiate products from Upper Deck, SA-GE, Press Pass, and Leaf. Throw in more than a few parallels and inserts along with memorabilia cards and there is something for every collector’s budget.
Should he make a successful comeback in 2018 and return to his place as one of the game’s dominant defenders, Watt’s rookie cards will remain a hot commodity and possibly experience some growth as well.
Below is a live list of the most watched J.J. Watt football cards on eBay right now.