Hunter Renfrow is coming off a breakout season where he was one of the most valuable players in fantasy football relative to his ADP (or lack thereof). Renfrow’s rapport with Derek Carr is undeniable, but the Raiders acquired Davante Adams and might add another wide receiver on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. How should dynasty fantasy football managers value Renfrow in 2022 and beyond?
Hunter Renfrow’s dynasty profile for 2022
As a prospect, Renfrow checks every box when looking at a player to avoid. He was a four-year player at a Power Five school and undersized at 5’10”, 184 pounds. He’s slow (4.59 40), and his speed and burst scores are in the bottom percentiles. Nothing about Renfrow’s profile suggests he should be a productive NFL player. Yet, in 2021, he was.
After averaging 10.3 PPR fantasy points per game and 8.2 ppg over his first two seasons respectively, the 2019 fifth-round pick broke out in his third NFL campaign. Renfrow averaged 15.2 ppg and was a reliable mid WR2 with six WR1 or WR1-caliber performances.
What Renfrow lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in route running. Renfrow is a precision route runner that just knows how to get open. The reason he succeeds in the NFL despite his physical limitations is because he’s just good at football.
The question dynasty managers need to answer concerning Renfrow’s value in 2022 and going forward is whether 2021 was just an anomaly? Have we already seen the best of Renfrow, or will he remain a fantasy force for years to come?
Fantasy projection for Renfrow
Following the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, my initial thoughts on Renfrow were that I bought it. Despite being a product of volume, what he did in 2021 was legit. Renfrow’s 21.7% target share marked a career-high by a sizable margin. He would never be a fantasy WR1 because the downfield production and touchdowns wouldn’t follow, but Renfrow could be a reliable floor-based WR2/3 for several years. I thought he might be undervalued because fantasy managers just wouldn’t believe in him.
Unfortunately, everything changed when the Raiders traded for Adams. Renfrow played a specific role on this offense. He was the reliable set of hands and the guy who moved the chains on third down. Derek Carr knew where Renfrow would be and could trust him to run the correct route, get open, and catch the ball. Now, Adams will do all of that and then some.
Adams can do everything Renfrow does, except he’s 6’1” and 212 pounds. The Raiders can and will use Adams as the guy who can get those quick receptions underneath by getting open at will. They will also use him as a downfield playmaker. Adams is a complete receiver that wins on every portion of the field. He’s about to take a serious chunk out of Renfrow’s fantasy value.
Renfrow’s snap share likely won’t change because he wasn’t a starter in two-receiver sets anyway. He played in all 17 games last season, yet had just a 66% snap share. His 6.6 average depth of target ranked outside the top 80, and his 18% air-yard share was about 70th in the league. Renfrow’s fantasy value stems from volume. Sadly, we’ve almost certainly seen the best season of Renfrow’s career in both volume and production.
What is Renfrow’s future beyond 2022?
Renfrow isn’t making much money on his current rookie deal. It hurts when a player is a 24-year-old rookie. He will be a free agent after the 2022 season. I expect the Raiders to extend Renfrow, as they know his value better than anyone. The unfortunate reality is other teams likely won’t view Renfrow as highly as the Raiders.
If Renfrow remains in Vegas, he’s playing out his next contract alongside Adams. At 26 years old, Renfrow will be around longer than Adams, who is 29. At the same time, Adams should have at least three highly productive years left. By the time Renfrow is out of Adams’ shadow, he’ll already be 29 himself. Barring injury, I don’t see a scenario where Renfrow is ever the clear top target on an NFL team again.
In the event Renfrow chooses to sign elsewhere, we’ll have to see where he ends up. Renfrow’s skill set has the advantage of meshing well on just about any offense. Every team can use a supremely reliable chain-mover. How effective he is on a new team will depend on who throws him the ball. A player like Renfrow is not winning with raw athleticism; he needs deliberate targeting and a rapport with his quarterback to produce.
Dynasty managers with Renfrow need to accept that the future is very uncertain at the moment.
What can fantasy managers expect from Renfrow?
It’s a bit ironic. Renfrow is a high-floor type player with what should be one of the more limited ranges of outcomes. However, due to his uncertain role in the 2022 Raiders offense, Renfrow’s value really could end up all over the place.
Once the season starts and we get clear data on how he’s being used, we’ll know where that range lies. Until then, Renfrow’s value is tethered to how he’s perceived by the managers in your dynasty league.
Following the Adams trade, it’s possible Renfrow’s perceived value cratered to the point where he’s become undervalued. There’s no denying his value took a hit; that’s objective. The question is, how much? Even with Adams in town, Renfrow is not going to just be completely irrelevant. He’s also not going to be a WR2 again.
Can Renfrow still be a WR3? If you think he can, then it’s probably worth exploring a trade. On the other hand, if you believe Renfrow goes back to the 2019 or 2020 guy that just didn’t matter in fantasy at all, trading him away for whatever you can get is the prudent move. Ultimately, his dynasty value and his value to you depends upon whether he helps your team more by being on it or as a trade piece.
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