Hunter Renfrow: Strong 2019 Finish Not Leading to 2020 Hype
After finishing the season strong last year, there seems to be exactly zero buzz around young (24-years old) Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow (LVR). According to National Fantasy Championship (NFC) average draft position (ADP) since the beginning of March, Renfrow’s ADP overall is 151 and he is being drafted 53rd amongst wide receivers (WR). Some key factors with his context and skill set suggest this is a misprice in the market and his value is especially depreciated in dynasty leagues.
Hunter Renfrow and his 2019 Sneaky Good Results
Although Renfrow only played 13 games last year, he averaged double-digit fantasy points, scored four touchdowns (TDs) and undoubtedly earned the trust of his team’s quarterback (QB) down the stretch. Over the course of the team’s final two games, Renfrow exceeded 100 yards receiving and scored a touchdown (TD) in each, while catching 13-18 targets for 209 yards. For context, Tyrell Williams (LVR) sat out the final week of the year, but other top receiving threat Darren Waller (LVR) was active for both games and Renfrow still excelled. The presence of Renfrow affected the results of Waller as he only saw 7.1 targets per game when Renfrow was active compared to 8.3 targets per game in the three games without him. Furthermore, he averaged 65.5 receiving yards per game in the games with Renfrow compared to 98.0 without and exactly 4.5 more fantasy points per game sans Renfrow as well. In other words, the attention Derek Carr (LVR) gave Renfrow was substantial and led to Renfrow averaging 6.8 targets per game in the second half of the year in just his rookie season. Even if the Raiders choose to address the wide receiver (WR) position in the draft, it is more likely Williams loses snaps in the near future than Renfrow as Williams was only called upon for an expanded role because Antonio Brown was cut. Renfrow was brought as one of Coach Jon Gruden’s “guys” to fill a role in the slot and he shined especially as the season wore on. There is no reason for his role to be replaced and, in fact, it should only expand.
Hunter Renfrow Efficiency
Amongst all receivers who played at least 20-percent of their team’s respective snaps last year, only Michael Thomas (NO), Adam Humphries (TEN), Chris Godwin (TB), Olabisi Johnson (MIN), Tyler Lockett (SEA) and Kenny Stills (HOU) posted a higher catch rate than Renfrow and his 6.4 yards after catch average ranked ninth. Using the same snap count baseline, Renfrow ranked 11th in yards per route run and edged out such names as Cooper Kupp (LAR), Adam Thielen (MIN) and Courtland Sutton (DEN) in the category. In 67 targets out of the slot, Renfrow was only credited with one drop and he posted a superior catch rate to the likes of Robert Woods (LAR), Emmanuel Sanders (SF) and Keenan Allen (LAC).
This all comes after Renfrow caught 153 passes in his final three seasons at Clemson despite playing alongside the likes of Deon Cain (PIT), Ray-Ray McCloud (BUF), Mike Williams (LAC) and Tee Higgins. He finished top 10 in receptions (RECs) in the ACC in the 2017 season and eclipsed 500 yards receiving in each of his final two years in college as well. To be fair, these were not exactly dominant numbers, and his college yard per reception (YPR) total put him in the fourth percentile. According to playerprofiler.com, his college dominator numbers left him in the 31st percentile numbers, meaning his college numbers by no means jumped off the page. One thing that did separate him was his agility score at the combine which put him in the 76th percentile amongst receivers. Coach Gruden raved about him all throughout the Raiders season of Hard Knocks, alluding to how impressed he was with him in college (right or wrong), and Renfrow went on to contribute in a meaningful way essentially from day one.
Losing Brown last year left the Raiders with an unexpectedly thin receiving core and the voids were filled admirably considering the circumstances by Williams and Renfrow. Undoubtedly, the team will be looking to improve the position via the draft, as reported by multiple sources. The signing of Nelson Agholor (LVR) did not rectify their outside receiver needs but the good news, at least, is the team is more inclined to draft a player to play outside receiver as opposed to a slot guy to compete with Renfrow’s snaps. Adding a dimension to the offense could theoretically take away targets from Renfrow but it could also just improve the offense as a whole and lead to more success for all those involved. Until a receiver is officially selected, it is hard to say for sure, without knowing the exact talent level of the player.
The presence of Josh Jacobs (LVR) should lead to this team being able to provide balance to the passing game for the foreseeable future despite having an offensive line that graded as league-average in terms of pass-blocking and below the league average in run-blocking, per PFF. Only eight teams posted a superior team QB rating than the Raiders so, despite the signing of Marcus Mariota (LVR), Carr’s play really was not the team’s main issue. Since the QB position played quite well, and Carr is expected to at least start the season as the starter, Renfrow’s situation remains similarly favorable in at least the short term.
Hunter Renfrow Fair Valuation
Depending on the format, Renfrow is quite a valuable piece, with the only formats deflating his value being those of the non-point per reception (PPR) variety. In PPR leagues, even seasonal ones, Renfrow has a clear path to a continuing, extensive role. Over the second half of the season, Renfrow received 21.9-percent of his team’s target market share which was higher than the likes of Calvin Ridley (ATL), D.K. Metcalf (SEA), Mike Evans (TB), T.Y. Hilton (IND), Michael Gallup (DAL) and D.J. Chark (JAX) during that stretch. While another receiver could eat into his workload, it shows just how involved the team was willing to get him from the get-go of his career. Renfrow is small but agile like many slot receivers and the value is in the receiving volume. Even in PPR leagues, Renfrow is being drafted outside the top 50 at the WR position despite having the potential to finish inside the top 30 if he were to top a 20-percent target share for an entire season. Considering his young age, the dynasty ADP for Renfrow is egregiously low as well, with Fantasy Football Calculator reporting a 2020 ADP of 46th WR in such formats. Renfrow’s questionable athletic profile could lead to longevity concerns but coach’s commitment combined with favorable QB should lead to him being worth at least a top 40 WR investment.