With Fantasy Football over until the 2020 season kicks in, I thought I’d take a look into a player I really like for next year. This player is Hunter Renfrow, Wide Receiver for the Oakland Raiders. That’s because he ended the season well and I see him as a comparable player skill set wise to….
Back in the 2019 offseason, I wrote an article on how I felt Jared Goff needed Cooper Kupp. Goff was relient on Kupp staying healthy in order for him to thrive. Boy did that prediction come good; Well for Kupp anyway. I think as bad as the Rams were at times it would have been much worse had Kupp not been on the field.
Kupp, now entering his third season had a career year. He played all 16 games which propelled him right into a top 5 Fantasy Receiver (Kupp finished as the WR4 in all scoring formats). However, he finished his 16 game season in an opposite fashion to how he started it.
The first five weeks of the season Kupp averaged 12.6 targets, 8.2 receptions, 4 touchdowns and 101 yards per game. He was a usage monster.
His final five weeks of the fantasy season read an average of 6 targets, 5.4 receptions, 5 touchdowns and 56.2 yards per game. His touchdowns saved his fantasy playoff run-in and yours in tow.
These stats helped propel Kupp to a #4 finish in standard and PPR league formats. If I hadn’t seen the standings for fantasy, I would have not guessed he finished fourth overall at his position. When reminiscing about the Rams season Kupps’ season finish is outstanding in my eyes.
Jared Goff was horrendous at points and his turnover rate was shocking. As bad as Goff was, his coach is great at evolving and Goff should see some positive regression next year. Kupp will benefit from this as long as Tight End (whoever that will be) doesn’t become a big thing. For me, he should be drafted as a Wide Receiver one next season.
This brings me to Hunter Renfrow. As mentioned before I consider him to be a comparison to Kupp. It could be one of those Stocks comparisons where in my head it feels right but ends up being a dumpster fire. Now blow the trumpets please, queue the drum roll, play the fanfare, it’s Hunter time.
There is one main caveat to this comparison. It all starts with the Head Coach and ends with the Quarterback. Jon Gruden, into his third year as Head Coach, his relationship with Quarterback Derek Carr is wobbly at best if reports are to be believed. if you listen to the whispers in the bushes Carr is taking a long walk down a short plank.
What makes this hilarious and somewhat unbelievable, is the fact that these pair are new homeowners and next-door neighbours in Las Vegas. With the Raiders moving to a new Black Hole at the bottom of the Vegas strip, opposite the Mandalay Bay hotel. Carr and Gruden have bought houses next to each other in preparation for the new season. Now I know both men are filthy rich and a house probably isn’t the biggest thing to just get rid of for them, but things could be a little frosty in the desert if things go south.
Gruden has shown he is willing to tear down and through the organisation from the ground up to get his vision in place. Despite Carr having a career year numbers-wise in 2019, it’s still not clear if he will be under centre next year.
Gruden likes his rock slingers to throw downfield and Carr is not one of those guys. He averaged a horribly low 4.9 yards per completion last year. This was lower than Joe Flacco, Mitch Trubisky and Jacoby Brissett and enough for him to be dead last for any full-time NFL starter. We have all seen the stat that Derek Carr has 55 career losses in his first six seasons, second to only his brother David Carr. Some of this has to be attributed to Carr but then also to Gruden not helping him out with the rest of the scheming for the team. However, the Rookie Renfrow started to flourish towards the end of the 2019 season and seems to fit the role Carr was obviously yearning for.
Hunter Renfrow was selected as the 11th pick in the fifth round by the Oakland Raiders. Playing alongside Deshawn Watson at Clemson, he played the majority of snaps out of the slot. Dabo Sweeny said of Renfrow “when he puts his helmet on, he’s superman”. High praise indeed.
In the two title games against Alabama, Renfrow had 170 yards and 4 touchdowns. Showing that he is clutch when needed and not afraid of the big stage.
Some of the slights on Hunter coming into the NFL was his size and speed could be a problem. He had never had a 100-yard receiving game. He desperately needed to be drafted by a team with an accurate Quarterback who hits the intermediate routes. Some of these things have been remedied by playing for the Raiders.
Coming of Age in The NFL
It took till Week 16 in his rookie season for him to break the 100-yard duck on his back. In a game against the Chargers, he had nine targets, six receptions, 107 yards and a touchdown. He followed it up with a fantasy irrelevant week 17 that was almost identical numbers-wise against the Broncos. The only uptake from 16 to 17 was his snap percentage went from 46% to 77%. I know it was week 17 but it shows the progression he needed to make and the trust being gained by the coaching staff.
Derek Carrs ADOT (average depth of target) was 6.9 yards. Slightly better than his 4.9 yards per completion this was only good enough for a league 6th lowest amongst qualifying quarterbacks in the ADOT statistic.
This suits the undersized Renfrow who made himself available on the inside and used his reliable hands to help move the chains on scoring drives for the Raiders. The last two games of the season from Renfrow may well have saved Carr from getting the Gruden shaped axe. He looks to be the perfect fit for Carr and his lack of distance when throwing the ball.
Oaklands Receiving Options Alongside Hunter Renfrow
Where does Renfrow sit amongst the Receiving talent in Oakland and is there a future for him to expand into a Black and Silver stalwart?
Tyrell Williams has flashed at times but has never really shown the true tigers eye of a Wide Receiver one. They signed him to a large $44million 4 year deal which he is guaranteed $20million of it. His 2020 contract ($10million) is guaranteed on the 20/3/2020 so I expect him to return this year. The Raiders obviously thought that they needed more power at Reciever when they went and signed Antonio Brown last offseason. They were in the hunt for a true Alpha Receiver. It didn’t pan out as we all know and they rolled with Williams for the 2019 season.
They even went as far as to sign Zay Jones from the Bills midway through the season on a 4 year $6.8 million deal. Jones never showed huge signs of promise at Buffalo as the primary Receiver and this could have been a plug a gap kind of move. Jones has the moves as an outside Receiver and with his huge wingspan could provide to be an occasional third Receiver for the team.
Whether Brown stayed in Oakland or not I believe Renfrow would have still succeeded as the slot guy. his numbers wouldn’t have dramatically changed due to Carr never pushing the envelope when it came to downfield passes. If Renfrow had caught more touchdown passes this number may have been affected by Brown’s presence. However, Renfrow only had four on the year. Two in the last two weeks as mentioned so the touchdown argument is mute in my mind.
Kupp and Renfro were both remarked on for having great hands coming out of college. This and being clutch in situations also complement their slot roles for their respective teams.
Kupp had an average target depth of 7.5 yards. Renfrow has a target depth of 6.8 yards. Fairly similar.
Renfrow has a yard per reception of 12.8 compared to Kupp’s 12.4 yard per reception.
Renfrow’s YAC (yards after catch) 4.3 yards per target. This shows he is the inside guy who makes plays and moves the chains with the chance to break big plays.
Kupp’s YAC is 3.9 yards. Again showing that he is Goff’s safety valve. He does, however, have the ability to explode, as shown in London against the Bengals where he went for 220 yards and one touchdown.
One season sample for Renfrow is obviously not ideal and more specifically the last two games are where he really made his hay. These two games were against two fairly good pass defences in the Chargers and Broncos. I can’t say for sure that Renfrow will turn in to anything in the NFL. What I can point out, however, is his college pedigree. Derek Carrs relieve on short-yardage work and having safe hands in the spot where the ball is going. Renfrow covers all these bases.
Is Renfrow suddenly a top six-round draft pick in fantasy? Certainly not. However, he has the ability to be a flex option. Maybe just maybe, if the chips fall his way with the Quarterback staying then he could even see Wide Receiver two value for your fantasy team. Take the punt in the latter rounds on this kid who could be a star going forward.