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Each year, sports card manufacturers release hundreds of unique sets. Of those sets, a few stand out from the competition.


Whether because of high-priced individual cards, overall solid value, a great variety of parallels and inserts, or other reasons, we’ve identified the ten best football card sets and packs to buy in 2021.

  • TOP OVERALL: 2020 Prizm Football Packs (Herbert/Burrow Rookie)  SHOP NOW
  • BALLER PICK: 2000 Bowman Chrome Football Packs (Tom Brady Rookie)  SHOP NOW
  • UNDERRATED: 1986 Topps Football Packs (Jerry Rice Rookie)  SHOP NOW


10 Best To Buy Now

Every collector has unique tastes and budgets, but the market has spoken. These are some of the most coveted packs and boxes from the 2021 football card release calendar.


#1. 2020 Panini Prizm Football Card Pack


2020 Panini Prizm packs take the second spot on the list, thanks to the inclusion of a Justin Herbert RC, one of the most popular collectibles on the market.

Best Card in Pack: 2020 Justin Herbert RC #325

Of course, Herbert was eventually named the Rookie of the Year, and his RCs are expected to provide a large ROI if you’re planning to hold in the long term.

One of the more recent sets to make a list, packs are worth keeping an eye on if you’re interested in the best football card packs. If you have more money to spend, consider a Prizm hobby box, as you will get a significant number of cards (hopefully Herbert or Burrow RC) for your money.

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#1A. 2020 Panini Mosaic Football Card Pack


We here at Gold Card Auctions feel that the 2020 NFL QB class may produce two of the top players at the position of all time. Who are we talking about? Yes, sir, Mr. Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow could be the next Brady and Manning.

“The 2020 Mosaic Football Card Packs not only contain a base rookie card of each but a TON of BEAUTIFUL parrellels”

The 2020 Football Mosaic pack is our best football card pack. But guess what? We also consider it the top option in all sports currently.


#2. 2000 Bowman Chrome Football Foil Pack 


Did someone say, Tom Brady, aka Captain America? Don’t look, but his rookie card prices are steamrolling upwards again like an out-of-control locomotive.

Best Card in Pack: 2000 Bowman Chrome Tom Brady RC #236

These 2000 Bowman Chrome football packs undoubtedly, take our number one spot. The pack could spit out the best sports card over the last five years in terms of ROI in the form of the 2000 Bowman Chrome Tom Brady rookie card.


#3. 2017 Panini Prizm Football Card Pack


Patrick Mahomes is the stand-out pick from the 2017 Panini Prizm, and the set contains one of his most popular RCs.

The QB’s Super Bowl exploits have caused prices to rise rapidly since the set was first released, while it’s worth noting that it’s a Silver Prizm rather than a traditional silver parallel. Whatever the case, the Mahomes RC is a worthy addition to any investment portfolio and another with significant future potential.


#4. 2012 Panini Prizm Football Card Pack


Heading to 2012, Russell Wilson is a prime hit in the flagship Prizm football set. The quarterback was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2020 and looked to be a cert for the Hall of Fame when he retires.

Best Card in Pack: 2012 Russel Wilson Prizm RC #230

Perhaps only matched by signed RCs from the same year, his base card is available in a range of Prizm parallels which significantly up the ante. Peyton Manning is another solid card to potentially pack, along with Brady and Drew Brees.


#5. 2005 Topps Chrome Football Pack


Aaron Rodgers won the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award for the 2020 season with 44 votes out of 48. The Green Bay Packers quarterback is still going strong despite being included in the rookie class of 2005, although retirement may be on the horizon in the next season or two.

We expect a bump in prices for his 2005 Topps Chrome Refractor once he ends his playing career, and he’s another star destined to become a Hall of Famer.

Best Card in Pack: 2005 Aaron Rodgers RC #190

Once again, Tom Brady is a potential hit for anyone brave enough to rip open a pack today.


#6. 2017 Panini Donruss Optic Football Cello Fat Packs


Another Mahomes rookie card, the key to the set, is found in 2017 Panini Donruss Optic Football. It’s a ‘Rated Rookie’, with a great image of 2 PM as he prepares to release the pigskin. There’s a range of parallels, and it’s not to be confused with the Donruss Optic card (#327), which shares the same image.

Best Card in Pack: 2017 Patrick Mahomes RC #177

As we’ve mentioned, we think Mahomes RCs are one of the better investment opportunities in the hobby overall when factoring in potential ROI.


#7. 1986 Topps Football Packs


A superior football pack if you’re looking for just not a big hit but lots of them. The 1986 Topps Football Card Pack spits out the coveted Jerry Rice rookie card and the Steve Young rookie card. Wait there is more. The pack can also spit out Dan Marion, Bernie Kosar, and Walter Payton’s football cards.

Best Card in Pack: 1986 Jerry Rice RC #230

Although none of the above are rookies, they still pack a good bunch regarding value. Side Note: Is it just us or is the Steve Young rookie card one of the most undervalued cards in the hobby? He was the third-best QB these eyes have personally seen (behind Kurt Warner and Tom Brady).


#8. 2000 UD Victory Sealed Foil Football Pack


Sticking with Brady, he will always be the essential player from any set released during the turn of the century. Every one of his RCs is especially valuable, including this entry-level product which originally retailed for just 99c per pack.

Best Card in Pack: 2000 Tom Brady RC #326

Only one Victory Rookie is included per pack, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be included. It is one of the cheaper Brady cards, but it’s still an RC featuring the GOAT.


#9. 2019 Panini Select Football Card Packs


Aside from Kyler Murray’s Rookie Ticket, we think his 2019 Panini Select RC is the option to own. The card shows Kyler tossing the football to an RB on the backfield. His autograph is placed bottom/center, with his name printed just above the auto.

Best Card in Pack: 2019 Kyler Murray RC #RS1

Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are two further hits, along with players like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, which must be seen as great future investment pieces.


#10. 2021 Donruss Football Card Packs

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Release date: September 8, 2021

Those who purchase a 2021 Donruss Football hobby box receive 10 cards in a pack, 18 packs in a box, and 18 boxes in a case.

On average, each box contains an autograph, a relic card, 18 rookie cards, 12 parallels, and 42 inserts.

The base set has a simple, classic Donruss look. Two-tone, team-colored borders surround captivating player images in a pinched rectangular shape.

The base cards alone are reason to consider this set, but they are not the pull factor most collectors seek.

Some of the most alluring cards are Rated Rookie parallels, with Black Die-Cut (/1), Black (/10), Gold Die-Cut (/25), and Gold (/50) parallels being the cream of the crop.

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Other noteworthy cards include Rated Rookie Autographs, Rated Rookie Portrait Autographs (/49), Rookie Phenom Jersey Autographs, and The Champ Is Here Autographs, which features players from the Bucs’ championship squad.

This set offers a massive spectrum of variety. This is a positive in one sense, as there are many unique parallels, subsets, and rookie cards that you could pull. On the other hand, a massive checklist presents some risks.

Still, 2021 Donruss Football packs offer unrivaled excitement in that you could unveil any number of exciting autographs, patches, and rookie parallels.


2021 Panini Prizm Draft Picks Cello Packs


Release date: June 11, 2021

If you don’t already know, “cello” packs refer to the transparent cellophane wrapping that encases each bundle of cards. These packs generally contain more cards than a standard pack.

2021 Panini Prizm Draft Picks Cello packs contain 15 cards each. Of the 15, there is a “bonus” three-card pack featuring red, white, and blue Prizm cards.

As previously discussed, you’re looking for autographs and rare parallels when opening a pack of Panini Prizm Draft Picks, including a cello pack.

The Draft Picks Autographs to include rare parallels such as White Sparkle (/1) (and previously discussed as its own pack), Black (/1), Black Gold (/5), and Neon Green Circles (/10).

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The sheer variety of autographed parallels makes the 2021 Panini Prizm Draft Picks cello pack an exciting one to open. Many of the parallels feature an array of fractured, stained glass-style color schemes.

Finding any rare autographed parallel, or a valuable insert like the Justin Fields Colorblast, could be a W for those who purchase a Prizm Draft Picks cello pack.


Bonus Pick

2021 Panini Prizm Draft Picks Football Packs

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The 2021 Panini Prizm Draft picks are set in packs of 8 cards. There are five packs per box and 16 boxes in a case.

You can see the previous description of the Panini Prizm cello pack for more details, but you’re looking for rare parallel autographs of Trevor Lawrence and other first-round rookies when you buy a pack o Prizm Draft Picks.

The Panini Prizm brand named combined with massive returns for rookie autos from this set make it one of the most valuable football packs in this year’s class of releases.

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