NFLPA Rising Stars Projects Next Group Of Top-Selling Players
Social Media, Fantasy Football, Early Product Demand Among Factors In Building 2020 List of Rookies and Veterans To Watch.
Twenty rookie and veteran players have been named to the NFLPA Rising Stars. The yearly list from the NFLPA, via its marketing and licensing arm, NFL Players Inc., aims to identify players poised to have an impact on consumer sales and eventually rank among the top sellers of officially licensed, player-identified merchandise in the new season.
BURROW, YOUNG AND TAGOVAILOA LEAD 10 PROMISING ROOKIES
- Fans are expected to represent their favorite new players at retail. Joe Burrow, the top overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, leads the rookies projected to finish among the Top 50 retail stars.
- Chase Young (Washington Redskins); Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins); CeeDee Lamb (Dallas Cowboys); Jerry Jeudy (Denver Broncos); Henry Ruggs III (Las Vegas Raiders); Isaiah Simmons (Arizona Cardinals); Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers); Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings); and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs) complete the ten rookies predicted to have a major impact on retail.
- According to opendorse, the social media activation partner of the NFLPA, which helps players and brands activate partnerships, Burrow has the highest social media engagement (31.7%) among the listed rookies. Burrow and Lamb are the fastest growing on social media, with 93% of Burrow's audience following him in the past year.
CHUBB, JONES, METCALF HIGHLIGHT 10 VETERANS TO WATCH
- The sports retail business thrives on top performing players, and the NFLPA expects popular veterans to continue driving that trend.
- Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns); Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers); D.K. Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks); Marquise Brown (Baltimore Ravens); Deebo Samuel (San Francisco 49ers); Jaylon Smith (Cowboys); Raheem Mostert (49ers); Damien Williams (Chiefs); Drew Lock (Broncos); and Mecole Hardman (Chiefs) rank as 10 veterans to watch.
- To be considered, veteran players must not have appeared on any previous quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List, which are the only verified rankings of all officially licensed product from retailers.
- Based on opendorse data, Metcalf leads Rising Star veterans in social media growth, adding more than one million followers in the past year. Williams leads with the most engaged social media audience (24.98%).
HOW THE LIST IS BUILT
- Each of the category rankings is developed by evaluating factors including on-field performance, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA partners for content and marketing, social media engagement, product submissions from more than 80 NFLPA licensees, the strength of a player’s team market, and the size of existing and future fan bases.
HOW THE LIST IS UTILIZED
- This year’s Rising Stars will provide partners with a valuable resource for planning licensed product lines, evaluating potential brand ambassadors, launching social media campaigns, developing new player-focused content, and creating marketing and promotion strategies for the upcoming season.
- Eight players jumped from last year’s Rising Stars to the quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales lists. Among them was Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was the top-ranked veteran on last year’s Rising Stars before jumping to No. 3 on the year-end sales list.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
- On helping partners plan for business: “Every year, new players break out on the field and at retail, and we’re excited about an upcoming season full of players with diverse backgrounds and personalities, playing in front of passionate fan bases. Rising Stars, which is predictive in nature and extends beyond our quarterly sales data, identifies those players we believe can help our partners achieve their business goals in the upcoming season.”– Steve Scebelo, Interim President, NFL Players Inc.
- On fantasy favorability of promising veterans: “We do analysis of NFL players all the time to project who will be most impactful for fantasy managers. This analysis also lends itself to the composition of the Rising Stars list because adding fantasy football success to on-field performance for their NFL team helps identity players who haven’t cracked the top 50 yet for jersey sales but are poised to be very popular with those of us who play fantasy. Fantasy Football can sometimes be subjective, but analysis shows that these veterans have the potential to surge in overall popularity based on their expected (and in some cases, continued) fantasy success.” – Matthew Berry, ESPN Fantasy sports host and analyst
- On social media influence and rookie marketability: "With name, image, and likeness changes coming at the college level, we're seeing players being more intentional than ever about building their personal brands, especially on social media. We believe this is the most marketable group of young stars in the NFL to date. These Rising Stars understand their marketability and how to impact their audience – making them incredibly powerful ambassadors for NFLPA sponsors and licensees." – Blake Lawrence, Co-Founder and CEO, opendorse