The Top 10 NFT PFP Projects of 2021: NFT Rankings
Disclaimer: Strobe (the writer of this article) holds some of the projects mentioned in this list — namely: Cool Cats, Doodles, Sup Ducks, CrypToadz, and Creatures. Nothing in this article constitutes financial advice. Always do your own research.
Welcome to the thunderdome. This is the official and definitive Ethereum NFT profile picture power rankings. Nothing wraps up the year quite like a Top 10 list — and what a year it has been for NFT PFPs.
While we know that NFTs can be much more than just profile pictures, it’s undeniable that 2021 was the year of the NFT profile picture. And it’s quite possible we’ll never see anything quite like it again.
So after all the chaos, which NFT project came out on top? Let’s get into my official top 10.
NFT Ranking Criteria
For these rankings I considered many different factors for each project:
- Prominent Buyers
Any project with staying power will hit most — if not all — of these categories. What starts as a profile picture is much more than a single piece of art; it’s betting on the community and the team behind it to build out a larger vision.
You can also apply these criteria to new or upcoming projects to make an educated guess on the success of it. If a new project hits them all based on your judgment, it’s probably worth a look.
Editor’s Note: These rankings are subjective and ranked by Stobe’s personal preferences based on his time collecting NFTs. If you are looking for a data-based approach to choosing an NFT project, use our NFT Project Rankings on MomentRanks
Top 10 NFT Profile Picture Projects of 2021
10. Gutter Cat Gang
First, we dive into the gutter. Gutter Cat Gang is one of the OG projects of 2021, dropping just over a week after Bored Apes, and it has stood the test of time thus far.
Despite only 3,000 cats in the original collection, the GCG has one of the most passionate communities around, and a dev team that has been going hard since Day 1. It has always blown my mind that this project isn’t held in higher regard to most.
Since the original drop of Cats, every holder has been able to mint a Gutter Rat companion (.62 ETH floor), plus a Gutter Pigeon (.57 ETH floor) or Gutter Dog (.78 ETH floor) companion. It’s worth noting that Gutter Cats are the only profile picture project using the ERC-1155 (multi-token) standard on this list, whereas most profile picture projects used the ERC-721 standard (non-fungible tokens).
The floor price is still strong at 4 ETH, rising a bit after their strong showing in Miami at Art Basel, reflecting the strong pillars of the project and the community.
Sliding in at number nine, we’ve got the DeadFellaz. Easily recognizable with their green skin and bold line work, the art of the project carves out it’s own spot on this list.
The team has also announced that Deadfrenz is an upcoming collection from their team that will be free to mint for all Deadfellaz holders. You can see their full Roadmap 2.0 here.
The Fellaz are supported by a dedicated team and I would recommend checking out the founder’s Twitter to read just how much the support of the community means to them. As of writing, the Deadfellas collection has a $33 million market cap.
8. Sup Ducks
Sup! Sup Ducks are the creation of long-time Los Angeles-based artist, FrankyNines. Bold colors, traits and line work really make the ducks pop off the screen. Plus, they have some of the best 1-of-1s I’ve seen.
If you want to know about the Sup Ducks community, swing by their Discord when they have a sup train going on. The project doesn’t take itself too seriously and they love to have a good time, as seen by the “just ducking around,” Twitter bio.
Another great thing is that the team is always working on new things to keep the project fresh and exciting. One is implementing a passive income system with $VOLT, where Duck holders can claim 10 $VOLT per day. $VOLT can also be used to upgrade visual effects of KingFrogs, another collection that could only be minted by SupDucks holders.
This continuous building is a quality I look for when making long-term plays on projects. As of this article, the Sup Ducks market cap sits around $47 million, per MomentRanks.
The kings of the pixelated animal genre, CyberKongz slip into the seven spot in the rankings with a $350 million market cap, per MomentRanks. There’s only 5,000 CyberKongz in existence, a smaller collection than most NFT PFP projects out today.
If you don’t know, Genesis Kongz have gone for over 100 ETH, and their babies come in at a strong 6 ETH for the floor. The only way into their Discord is by owning one, and I’ve had multiple people tell me they’ve made their money back within 48 hours from all the NFT alpha shared there.
Kongz were one of the first projects to introduce a token that you earn just from holding the NFT, which has provided a ton of value to early Kongz believers. I feel like the project is still underrated and not even known by the casual NFT enjoyer. I would not be surprised to see more big things from the Kongz community in the future, as it’s clear they’re here for the long-term.
6. Creature World
The brainchild of NYC artist Danny Cole is next on my list. This project has a different vibe than others. It truly feels like an artistic journey from Cole, who is only 21-years-old, that is more than a profile picture.
The project started with a unique minting experience, where users were prompted to collect items to go up the rainbow and mint their Creatures. Held together by a strong community and notable buyers that includes Shaquille O’Neal himself, Creatures feel posed to stick around for the long run. Cole doesn’t seem like he’s content to sit around and not push the project further — and the next journey is set to begin soon.
Some of my favorite traits are the raincoats, the wizards, and the third eyes. But all Creatures look good, and that’s another reason for their popularity.
If you’ve read my other articles, you know how much I love the toadz and all their vibes. This is a collection of 6,969 Toadz, released in early fall of 2021. Fantastic and fun art from Loafgren, an OG artist, paired with a ton of support from big hitters, including Punks holders, put CrypToadz at the number five spot on my list.
The price rollercoaster has been quite the journey, peaking around 14 ETH and falling all the way back to around 3 ETH currently. This begs the question just how far vibes can take you — but I think the Toadz are primed to make a big run if the market comes back.
Keep an eye on this collection in tandem with Punks, as the communities are inextricably linked because of their collector base.
The newest project on this list takes the number four place on this list, and I’ve been hyped on it since I first learned about it. Doodles jumped right into the NFT PFP mix with their awesome art from Burnt Toast and a passionate community.
This project of 10,000 colorful PFPs was created by Evan Keast and Jordan Castro — both former Dapper Labs employees — and renowned artist and illustrator Burnt Toast.
Doodles has a strong community of “doods” and a dedicated team committed to elevating the project as high as it can go. Holders are able to vote on different initiatives that use the project’s treasury, known as the Doodle Bank. Every Doodle counts as a vote toward the way the money generated by the project is spent, and other project initiatives.
So far, this voting mechanism and the treasury has been used to hire community managers, bring on a full-time animator, put together storyboard pitches for a Doodles show, and even vote on Doodle derivatives.
This is another project adopted by big buyers and celebrities alike, including Dillon Francis and Future, solidifying its popularity. Right now, the floor sits at 3.25 ETH, just a few months after the mint. Ringing in some massive 50 ETH and higher sales, it’s safe to say Doodles are here to stay and are building for the long-term.
3. Cool Cats
With simple lines and their cute art style, Cool Cats have come from humble beginnings to one of the most coveted NFTs in the space. They currently are chilling at a 6.9 ETH floor, after reaching as high as 15 ETH in early Fall, and a market cap over $330 million, according to MomentRanks.
I remember on mint day, the team lowered the price to .02 ETH based on feedback and refunded or compensated everyone who minted at a higher price. It minted out shortly after, and it’s been a wild ride for the cat holders since.
I have had a lot of respect for them since then, and they have continued to impress with their commitment to the project and continual improvement. Led by four founders, including their artist clon, they have expanded their team to over a dozen contributors.
With creatures, $MILK, and their play-to-earn game on the way on the Polygon network, the Cool Cats team is building a lovable brand that will stand the test of time, regardless of where NFTs go next.
The Cool Cats community is a great one, and always has a warm welcome whenever I pop into the Discord. My one knock on the community is that they can be extremely paper-handed at times, even though the project has a lot of support from well-known NFT collectors. The cats are here to stay and I’m excited to see how their new game develops the project even further.
2. Bored Ape Yacht Club
Coming in hot at number two on the list is the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), created by Yuga Labs. For those not familiar with the apes who’ve taken the world by storm, you can check out our article on them and how they launched from day one.
The art isn’t for everyone, but the clean lines and exciting traits definitely make the apes stand out in a crowd. I personally love the DMT and Deathbot furs. While they certainly took some inspiration from the Punks traits, their unique spin on their own Ape traits — when they were early to the generative PFP game — is still impressive today.
Released in late April, the BAYC has ridden the NFT wave to superstardom with a current floor of 52.5 ETH from a mint price of .08 ETH. Since April, they have become incredibly popular and adopted by pro athletes, artists, and celebrities.
The highest ape sale to date was 769 ETH — $3.1 million, plus a bundle of 101 Apes which sold for $24.4 million at Sotheby’s in September. The Apes collection alone — excluding the Kennel Club and Mutants — has a market cap of $2.38 billion (with a B), according to MomentRanks.
Apes have delivered plenty of value to its community, with Kennel Club and Mutant Ape airdrops, free (with gas) to OG Bored Ape holders. Not to mention Ape Fest in NYC during NFT NYC, the upcoming play-to-earn game with Animoca Brands, and the rest of Roadmap 2.0.
While the BAYC prides itself on community (apes strong together, shoutout WSB), it’s not always as welcoming as others. Some of the community think they are much smarter or better than others simply because they minted or own an ape. That being said, there are still tons of great people repping them, the community has grown in the way it has for a reason, and the brand is now internationally recognizable because of the celebrities in the club.
Will Apes flip Punks? I certainly think it’s possible in the short-term. I have no skin in the Ape vs. Punk war, but I am very interested to see how it plays out. Does someone step out of the shadows and sweep 1,000 ETH in punks? Or maybe Apes instead? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Even with all the drama swirling around CryptoPunks about their creative licensing, I still have them at the top of the NFT profile picture mountain. Originally released in 2017 from LarvaLabs, they have been around for an eternity in crypto time.
While the art is simple pixels — 576 of them to be exact, they are instantly recognizable and symbolizes humble beginnings that have evolved over time to how big crypto is today. They are also a hell of a flex, with the floor price sitting at about $278,000 (68 ETH) currently.
The largest Punk sale to date in crypto was 4,200 ETH ($7.58 million at the time of the sale), though two punks (#4156 and #7523) have sold for over $10 million USD, one of which sold at Sotheby’s.
Punk owners are some of the most OG and well respected people in the crypto community, as their Punk ownership can represent their early commitment to crypto. When new projects have the support of the Punks holders, it carries weight.
One of the main criticisms of Punks is LarvaLabs themselves — the creators of Punks and Meebits — so it will be interesting to see if the inactivity of the devs de-crown the king in the future.
Thus ends our journey for now. Maybe we’ll follow up and re-rank in the middle of 2022 to see what’s changed and what teams are still building.
Follow me on Twitter to argue with me about my rankings: @Strobe4521
Disclaimer: Strobe holds some of the projects mentioned in this list — namely: Cool Cats, Doodles, Sup Ducks, CrypToadz, and Creatures. Nothing in this article constitutes financial advice. Always do your own research.