The National Football League Players Association has unveiled its annual Rising Stars List, an annual ranking that attempts to identify the next round of players to have an impact on consumer sales.
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and Sam Darnold of the New York Jets were among the top of the list. Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals complete the five rookies predicted to have high impact at retail.
“It is always exciting for us to see new players have the opportunity to break out both on the playing field and on retail shelves,” says Steve Scebelo, vice president, licensing and business development, NFLPA. “This year’s NFLPA Rising Stars list will provide partners with a valuable resource for evaluating potential endorsers and influencers, planning product lines and creating a marketing strategy for the season.”
This year’s list was divided into three categories–rookies, veterans and familiar face, new places. Each category weighed a variety of factors including draft position, on-field performance, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors for content and marketing, product submissions from NFLPA licensees and the strength of a player’s new team market.The list is also based on data reported from more than 80 NFLPA licensees such as Fanatics, Nike, Majestic Athletic, Outerstuff, Forever Collectibles, Fathead, McFarlane Toys, Bleacher Creatures, FBF Originals, 500 Level, FanPrint, Photo File and New Era.
Highlights from the NFLPA’s Rising Star List include:
- Since the first list in 2015, 29 players have climbed from a Rising 50 designation to the quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales Lists including eight players this year: Jay Ajayi, Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, Mitchell Trubisky, T.J. Watt and Jimmy Garoppolo.
- Saquon Barkley joins Marcus Mariota (No. 3 in 2015), Ezekiel Elliott (No. 1 in 2016) and Myles Garrett (No. 6 in 2017) as the Rising Stars list’s all-time highest ranked rookies to watch. Elliott rose from No. 5 on the 2016 Rising 50 to No. 1 on the 2017 Year-End Top 50 Player Sales List.
- Leonard Fournette and Jalen Ramsey of the Jacksonville Jaguars were among the top five young veterans.
- On the defensive side, Ramsey and Aaron Donald ranked high on the list.
The 2018 NFLPA Rising Stars List projects:
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
- Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
- Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
- Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
- Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
- D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
- Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
- Bradley Chubb, DE, Denver Broncos
- Shaquem Griffin, LB, Seattle Seahawks
- Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
- Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
- Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
- Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
- Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
- Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Familiar Faces, New Places:
- Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos
- Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas Cowboys
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams
- Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
- Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
The NFLPA Rookie Premiere will provide NFLPA sponsors and licensees access to 40 top rookies, many of whom are on the aforementioned list, May 17-19, in Los Angeles. It is the first major business event following the draft.