NFLPA Forecasts Next Group Of Top-Selling Players On New “Rising Stars” List

Newest projections of breakout retail stars put spotlight on three player categories: Rookies, Veterans and Familiar Faces, New Places


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– Newest projections of breakout retail stars put spotlight on three player categories: Rookies, Veterans and Familiar Faces, New Places –
– Rookies Saquon Barkley, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen among those forecasted for sales success –
– Among the popular veterans and players in new markets are Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, Patrick Mahomes, Case Keenum, Allen Hurns and Brandin Cooks –

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2018 – Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara and Case Keenum rank as projected future top-selling performers on the NFLPA Rising Stars list, it was announced today by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), via its marketing and licensing arm NFL Players Inc. This year’s list sports a new look with three categories of projected top-sellers: Rookies, Veterans and Familiar Faces, New Places. The list aims to identify the next crop of players poised to have an instant impact on consumer sales and ultimately rank among top sellers of all officially licensed player-identified merchandise for all NFLPA sponsors, licensees, retailers and future partners.

In order to be considered, players must not have appeared in any previous quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List.

As fans flock to buy products featuring this year’s new players, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley leads the ten rookies tabbed by the NFLPA to finish among the future best-selling players. Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, Sam Darnold of the New York Jets, Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals round out the five rookies predicted to have high impact at retail.

The retail business thrives on top performers, and the NFLPA Rising Stars foresees popular veterans—four of the top five having been rookies last season—driving that trend. New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara, Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey and Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook rank as five bright young veterans to watch.

Top free agents and major trade acquisitions in new markets for the 2018 season are also positioned as likely high-volume retail performers in the NFLPA Rising Stars Familiar Faces, New Places category. Among the players expected to make a strong first impression with fans in their new markets are Denver Broncos QB Case Keenum, Dallas Cowboys WR Allen Hurns, Los Angeles Rams WR Brandin Cooks, Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson and San Francisco 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon.

“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,” said Steve Scebelo, NFLPA vice president of licensing and business development. “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.”

Each of the three category rankings on the new NFLPA Rising Stars list is developed by evaluating factors including draft position, on-field performance, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors for content and marketing, product submissions from more than 70 NFLPA licensees, and the strength of a player’s new team market. The lists of players will be updated once annually.

The reveal of NFLPA Rising Stars follows the recent announcement of the Year-End NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales leaders, which featured eight players from last year’s Rising 50. Among them was San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who made the final spot on last year’s list of Rising 50 before jumping to No. 28 on the year-end list.

At the first major business event following the NFL draft, the upcoming NFLPA Rookie Premiere (May 17-19 in Los Angeles) will provide NFLPA sponsors and licensees access to 40 top rookies—including many from the Rising Stars list—as they learn about developing their brand and jumpstarting their endorsement careers.

Highlights from 2018 NFLPA Rising Stars:

  • Since the first list in 2015, a total of 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 past 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 list’s all-time highest ranked rookies to watch. Elliott skyrocketed from No. 5 on the 2016 Rising 50 to No. 1 on the 2017 Year-End Top 50 Player Sales List.
  • As Jacksonville Jaguars fans continue to ride the high of their team’s run to the AFC title game, popular players RB Leonard Fournette and CB Jalen Ramsey represent the team among the top five young veterans.
  • On the defensive side, two stalwarts appear on the Rising Stars list as potential top fan merchandise performers including Ramsey and Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald.

2018 NFLPA Rising Stars List


  1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
  2. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
  3. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
  4. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
  5. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
  6. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
  7. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
  8. Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
  9. Bradley Chubb, DE, Denver Broncos
  10. Shaquem Griffin, LB, Seattle Seahawks


  1. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
  2. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  3. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  6. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
  7. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
  8. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
  9. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
  10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

Familiar Faces, New Places:

  1. Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos
  2. Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas Cowboys
  3. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams
  4. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
  5. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers

About the NFL Players Association

The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020.

About NFL Players Inc.

NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFLPA, connects businesses to the power of NFL players. NFL Players Inc. creates customized business solutions for partners, through licensing, marketing strategy and player activations. For more information, please visit

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