2021 Prizm Football Review

May 26, 2022

With 2021 Prizm Football releasing in late May of 2022, collectors are finally getting to unwrap the premier NFL card release of the year. Cardlines is here to look to give you all the insight and info as collectors dig into one of the most popular products on the market.

But the price is steep. At $1600 per box, is Prizm football a rip, flip, hold or pass?

Release Day Notes

A few interesting things shook out from the release of Prizm 2021. We’ve unpacked a few of the key points and takeaways.

While the FOTL box sold in a dutch auction on May 26th, the Prizm hobby hox is scheduled to go live on May 3rd on Panini’s website. This will presumably be the day you can find the product in your favorite local hobby shop (pro tip: shop local if you can).

There are no confirmed release dates for the blaster and mega boxes yet, but typically these products drop about two weeks after the hobby release. So if you’re trying to stay on top of the retail release, the best approach might be to join a Facebook group and keep up with the hobby chatter there.

Frequently, somebody in a big group will post something like, “Talked to the rep last week, and we can expect blasters next Tuesday.” Of course, the rollout is regional, but this should give you an idea.

Prizm Football Product Introduction

I could have skipped this section. After all, Prizm needs no introduction for most collectors.

That said, if you’re new to the hobby, here’s what you need to know: Prizm is, without a doubt, the most popular sports card product for both basketball and football cards. The secret of the product has always been simple. Prizm combines mass appeal with a reasonable price point.

Now the formula is a bit different. $1,250 for a box is not pocket change. However, each box contains 144 cards. Many other brands that are considered “high-end” deliver 6-10 cards at the same price or more.

Additionally, Prizm maintains its popularity by reaching the mass market. You can find blaster, hanger, and mega boxes at your local Walmart or Target. Unfortunately, you have to pitch a tent in the card aisle to land some lately.

Either way, blaster boxes typically resell for $100 to $150. Thereby collectors wanting a taste of Prizm without paying four figures can buy-in. Think of it this way: The new Spider-Man movie might not win any Oscars, but it’s crazy-popular because it’s something everybody can enjoy.

NFL Prizm blasters have inspired many long lines at Walmart (get some on eBay).

Why 2021 Panini Prizm Football Is The Biggest Release Of The Year

Prizm’s history stretches back almost as far as Panini’s involvement in NBA and NFL cards, and to celebrate the release, let’s take a quick look back.

Prizm was released in 2012 as part of Panini’s promise to provide innovative improvements to the sports card hobby. As Panini put it, the hobby was long overdue for an upgrade, and Prizm could be the answer.

It was. The opti-chrome set introduced the “prizm” card – the answer to Topps’ trademarked “refractor.” In the early years, the prizm cards came in simple color varieties: mainly silver, green, red, and aqua. Since then, Panini’s added a few new color options every year and built out an extensive Prizm rainbow, although most are available only in hobby boxes.

Still, the silver prizm cards are in all Prizm products and have since become the single-most iconic rookie card of any modern player. A PSA 10 Silver Prizm is as good as it gets for a long-term investment of a non-numbered card. And that fact that anybody can go pick up a box of Prizm at Walmart and potentially pull a silver prizm of their favorite star rookie only bolsters the gold rush that the product has created.

While Prizm has been in print for 9 years now, more offshoots from Panini also include “prizm” cards: Select, Optic, Mosaic, and many more. In this way, Prizm is the grandfather of all modern opti-chrome cards and the single-most-important sports card set for modern investing.

The Timing Of The 2021 Panini Prizm Football

Most collectors will roll their eyes at the late release date of this product. The pandemic indeed delayed printing, packaging, and shipping cards – as it should have – but the release delays are getting a bit out of control. Especially considering Panini insists on releasing a handful of new products every season that nobody asked for, only punting the major releases further down the line.

While it’s annoying to unwrap the hottest 2021 cards a solid four months after the Super Bowl, there is a glimmer of good. We’ve seen the rookies.

The entire class has finished their rookie year by the time 2021 Prizm is released, and that means collectors have the unique opportunity to make data-driven decisions about which rookies will be the best to invest in. Of course, other collectors have the same chance, but you at least are making an informed decision.

You can think of it as seeing recently released movies that have gotten bad reviews. Of course, you still chose to see it, but at least you have expectations – and maybe even some spoilers.

The other thing that this release has in its favor is the strength of the rookie class. Indeed, it is a lot more exciting than the 2022 class. So if there was ever a time for one rookie class to overlap with the next one, it might be 2021-22.

The 2021 Prizm Football FOTL Dutch Auction

Prizm 2021 FOTL was released as a dutch auction, and it seems that there was still plenty of room for flippers to make a profit.

A dutch auction, as a reminder, is Panini’s practice of releasing a product at a high price and incrementally lowering the cost until everything is sold out. There’s a fine line between ensuring you get the product you want and not overpaying as a buyer.

The final price on these Prizm 2021 FOTL boxes was $1,479. This has to feel like a loss for Panini. On the other hand, most of the resellers are pre-ordering boxes of Prizm Football Hobby for $1,599, and for the FOTL boxes to close lower than that suggests an impending drop in hobby release prices.

Remember that FOTL boxes should be more valuable than the regular hobby box. As “First of the Line,” they include two additional exclusive short print parallels.

Still, some flippers went to eBay and immediately flipped their loot. According to these day-one sales, the FOTL boxes sold for about $2,250. So for a buyer who picked up the box for $1,479, this would be quite a nice flip.

The 2021 Prizm Football Review Of What’s New

Unwrapping a box of 2021 Prizm Football is guaranteed to be a rush. After all, the potential for a great pull is immense.

This year there is more to get us excited. True to form, the hobby boxes again introduce new parallels: orange wave, navy camo, and forest camo.

If you’re into collecting rookies, Prizm has you covered in bulk. Hobby boxes will contain 24 rookie cards, on average. The odds are that several of them will sell for $100 or more – at least at first.

Panini also advertises the chance to “collect one of the best rookie classes of all time in this 110-card rookie set.” I’m nowhere near calling this one of the best rookie classes ever. Nonetheless, the number of RCs in the set is worth noting.

As far as the box contents go, you’ll pull 2 autographs, 10 #’d prizms, 4 sliver prizms, 24 rookies, and 5 inserts in each.

The value of 2021 Prizm comes down to how you evaluate the rookie class (picture taken from Panini)

The 2021 Prizm Football Review Of Formats

Prizm will be released in several formats. Here’s a breakdown of everything we can expect.

Hobby Box

  • 12 cards per pack.
  • 12 packs per box.
  • 2 Autographs
  • 10 #’d prizms
  • 4 silver prizms
  • 5 inserts

Hanger Box

  • 20 cards per box
  • 4 cracked ice inserts

Blaster Box

  • 4 cards per pack
  • 6 packs per box
  • 1 blaster exclusive rookie memorabilia card*

Mega Box

  • 4 cards per pack
  • 10 Packs Per Box
  • 1 autograph, on average

TMall Box

  • 6 cards per box
  • 1 exclusive base or rookie prizm red and yellow numbered to 49 or less*

No Huddle Box (H2)

  • 5 cards per pack
  • 18 Packs Per Box
  • 1 No Huddle Rookie Auto Prizm*
  • 10 Exclusive base or rookie prizm No Huddle parallels*

*Noted because this is not confirmed, just based on previous years.

You can preorder a hobby box of Panini Prizm 2021, but it ain’t cheap. Look for them on eBay).

2021 Prizm Football Review Of The Checklist

The Prizm lineup looks very similar to last year’s boxes, even at the hobby level. However, some new inserts and Prizm colors add flare.

Here’s a look at this year’s hobby colors:

  • Orange #’ d/249
  • Purple Ice #’ d/225
  • Blue Wave #’ d/199
  • Hyper #’ d/175
  • Red Wave #’ d/149
  • Purple #’ d/125
  • Blue Ice #’ d/99
  • Green Scope #’ d/75
  • Orange Wave #’ d/60
  • Purple Power #’ d/49
  • Camo #’ d/25
  • Camo #’ d/15
  • Gold #’ d/10
  • Gold Vinyl #’ d/5
  • Black Finite One-of-One
  • Snakeskin

The snakeskins are one-per-case. As they are exceptionally rare, snakeskins demand big bucks.

There will also be rookie patch autographs numbered to /99, /49, and /10, plus a black finite /1. Like snakeskins, they’re hobby-only.

The autograph set includes “franchise legends” and “Prizm Rookie Autographs.” The franchise legends set consists of some good names. However, let’s get real: this product is all about rookie cards. So, pulling veteran auto stings a bit.

There are three significant inserts to seek. As described by Panini, they are:

  • Manga: Brand new in 2021, Manga utilizes Anime-style illustration to create a truly unique card of the top vets and rookies in the NFL.
  • Color Blast: Be on the hunt for unique inserts, including Color Blast! This super short-printed insert falls one in every 10 cases, on average!
  • Illumination: Find your favorite player in this 35 card SP insert. Find a mix of current veterans and rookies!

All of these will be big money cards, but the color blasts (and their one-in-ten cases rate) will flirt with the “worth more than a new truck” valuation for a leading quarterback.

Snakeskin is a case hit with immense potential value (look for more on eBay).

2021 Prizm Football Review Of Value

If you’re hoping to invest in Prizm 2020-21, the first question to answer is if you should buy singles or wax.

Wax Value

Let’s look at the two most popular formats of Prizm.

Hobby Boxes

Last year’s Prizm hobby boxes are already selling for $1,700 on DACardworld, while the 2019 boxes sell for $1,400 on Blowout. These are selling for more than the current $1,250 preorder price of the 2021 boxes. The difference, as always, is the rookies. The 2019 class is not nearly as exciting as the 2020 class, led by Burrow and Herbert.

If you’re a believer in the 2021 rooks, buying these boxes could be an excellent long-term hold. Trevor Lawrence has been underwhelming as a rookie. However, if he’s as good as all the analysts believe, they could be selling for so much more. The 2017 boxes, for example, sell for almost $10,000, thanks to Mahomes, McCaffrey, and Kupp.


The blasters will presumably sell for around $30-40, and last year’s boxes are reselling for about $110. Based on how many they’re printing, they’d probably be a better short-term than long-term hold. Either way, it’s a win if you can buy them at retail.

I would note, however, that blasters are going to be a lot safer flip than rip. After all, there is a notable absence of numbered cards or autographs inside.

Singles Value

Prizm rookie cards are the blue-chip investment of modern Panini rookies. So, if you’re going to invest in just one card of anybody, Prizm is the way to go.

The silver rookies are slightly overvalued, considering they’re the most common Prizm insert. That said, your best bet of making a guaranteed profit is finding a few silver rookies of players you believe in. Then, buy them raw (after asking for more pictures) before grading them.

A Joe Burrow raw silver rookie sales for about $500 while a PSA ten recently sold for $2,600. These numbers will presumably continue to rise as Burrow plays at a high level.

But caution: don’t buy the first Prizm cards that appear on eBay for this year. The price will inevitably drop as the supply meets the demand.

Getting a choice Silver Prizm graded is a great way to maximize profits (look for more Ezekiel Elliott RCs on eBay).

Bottomline Of The 2021 Prizm Football Review

While the Prizm 2021 release might be coming five months later than collectors hoped, it’s still an industry-shaker. No matter how many negative things collectors say about the lateness of the release, all those collectors will still be lining up to get Prizm rookies.

That goes to show the power of the product. No matter how bad Panini fumbles a release, the timing, or even the actual centering of the cards themselves (Prizm 2019-20 basketball, we’re looking at you), the gravitational pull of the premier football product is too strong.

With 2021 Prizm Football, there’s no way I can call it a pass. The brand is the poster child of sports cards, so of course, you want to get in on the action. As for the rest of my options – rip, flip or hold – the answer is: all three. There’s not a wrong answer with Prizm.

Ripping is by far the riskiest, but there’s a chance for a great payoff. Of course, there’s also a chance you’re left with a “what did I just do?” feeling afterward. But that’s part of the game. If you find boxes at retail in the wild, flipping is a sure-fire profit. However, holding, be it long-term or short-term for both retail and hobby, is a pretty safe bet, too.