In this series of articles, our resident tape wizard Greg Cosell will take an in-depth look at some of the more interesting fantasy players for the 2020 NFL season. It’s a peek behind the curtain of the film room, as these are Greg’s raw, unfiltered notes he takes as he watches a player.
The Raiders have completely revamped their receiving corps for the 2020 season, adding rookie WRs Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards to the mix, while also selecting RB/WR/gadget player Lynn Bowden in the 2020 NFL Draft. These three early picks join 2019 breakout star TE Darren Waller and veteran WR Tyrell Williams to form a very intriguing group.
But one name who might be forgotten is the smallest of the group — second-year WR Hunter Renfrow, the former college football hero who quietly had a solid rookie season. Where does the film show he should fit into the Raiders’ plans?
While I watched multiple games, my film study predominantly focused on the final two games of the season, in each of which Renfrow had 100-plus yards and a touchdown.
Renfrow showed a good feel for attacking the leverage of man-to-man defenders, and finding and setting into the voids in zone coverage.
Renfrow did not run many vertical routes, but when he did he showed an understanding of how to use his vertical stem to attack corners and create separation. He also showed good short-area burst.
Renfrow had a few too many drops for a possession slot receiver – he needs to clean that up.
Renfrow is a specific kind of receiver. He is most effective when lined up in the slot tighter to the formation, working the short and intermediate levels of the defense.
My sense is Renfrow could be a bigger factor in the Raiders’ passing game with the addition of Ruggs, who will likely force coverages to play a little differently due to the vertical dimension.
Renfrow’s stats: 49/605/4 (12.4 YPR, 71 targets)
Renfrow predominantly lined up in the slot, both the conventional slot and inside slot to trips.
When the formation put Renfrow at #1, he was almost always in a reduced or “nasty” split, or the outside receiver in a tight trips bunch.
There were snaps on which Renfrow was the off-the-ball receiver in a two-man stack. That gave him a free release on timing routes like quick outs and angle routes.
Renfrow was featured on many quick-game routes from his slot and reduced alignments — flat routes, sit routes, crossers off “bang” play action.
Renfrow was also featured on pivot routes, option routes, and angle routes to take advantage of his short-area quickness. Renfrow also ran screens out of the slot, primarily when he was #3 to trips.
Renfrow ran some intermediate crossers and over routes (over routes coming in the high red zone) – Renfrow was predominantly featured on short and short-to-intermediate routes.
Some of Renfrow’s explosive plays came on angle routes (65-yard TD against the Texans, 20-yarder against the Bengals) and the corner route (27 yards versus Bengals). All three of these plays came against man coverage.
Renfrow saw significant targets out of bunch and stack. It was evident the Raiders wanted to get Renfrow clean releases and free access off the line of scrimmage into his routes.
Renfrow’s 56-yard TD against the Chargers in Week 16 came with Renfrow as the #2 to trips. It was a quick slant against Cover 3 with the post safety taking a bad angle.
Renfrow ran an out-and-go against the Broncos in Week 17 and easily beat the corner, but Carr just overthrew him on what should have been a 20-yard TD.
A 22-yard reception vs. the Broncos in Week 17 came on an intermediate crosser off play action and orbit-reverse action. It was a post-cross combination against Cover 3 and Renfrow was wide open on the crosser.
Renfrow lined up as the boundary X on the back side of trips in the tight red zone against the Broncos in Week 17. He ran a quick slant from this alignment but it was incomplete.
Renfrow’s 48-yard catch against the Broncos in Week 17 came on an out-and-go from an outside stack alignment. There was a switch release off the line, with an inside stem as part of a “two-through-the-zone” concept that beat the corner. Renfrow lateraled the ball to Marcell Ateman at the end of the play for an added gain.
Another catch against the Broncos in Week 17, this one for 28 yards, also came on an out-and-go, but this time Renfrow was the outside receiver in a three-man bunch. It was a post-wheel “two-through-the-zone” concept.
The last two games of the season, in which Renfrow had consecutive 100 yard games, the Raiders did an excellent job with route concepts attacking zone coverage. The concepts got Renfrow open.