Over the last few weeks, I've been asked a question on social media with a fair amount of regularity.
No, not, "Why in God's name did Rotoworld hire you?" I've been getting that one for years now.
"What's wrong with Bobby Wagner?"
Through six weeks this season, Wagner has just 31 total tackles and no big plays. The seventh-year veteran is on pace for just 83 stops.
That would not only be a career low—it would be the first time in Wagner's career that he's failed to log 100 tackles.
It would be great if I could tell you there was one thing to blame for Wagner's slump—even better if I could say that's sure to turn around.
Sadly, it's not that simple.
For starters, Wagner's spent part of the season banged up. He's always been a tough player willing to play through bumps and bruises, but a groin injury sidelined the 28-year-old in Week 2 and limited him in a number of other games.
In recent weeks, the Seahawks have also morphed into a ground-and-pound team looking to control tempo and time of possession with the run game. That's fine for Seattle—it's helped get the Seahawks back to .500 as they hit the bye. But if the offense is on the field, the defense isn't—and Seattle's tackle opportunities have tailed off noticeably of late.
Finally, there's the matter of matchups. Of Seattle's six opponents this season, four rank inside the bottom-10 in the NFL in fantasy points given up to linebackers. Three are in the bottom six. And none rank inside the top-15.
It's a perfect storm of sorts. And all fantasy owners can really do is try to weather it.
In all but the absolute shallowest of IDP leagues, moving on from Wagner altogether is more likely than not to backfire. With any luck, the bye week will afford Wagner a chance to get close to 100 percent physically, and Seattle's next opponent (the Detroit Lions) ranks higher in fantasy points given up to linebackers than any team Seattle has faced to date.
Stay the course, get through the bye, and then hope we get back to Wagner Time in Week 8.
WEEK 7 IDP WAIVER WIRE
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars: After logging just five total tackles and two sacks over the first five games of 2018, Ngakoue tallied four stops and two sacks in Week 6 alone. That could be the beginning of a return to DL2 form.
Preston Brown – ILB, Cincinnati Bengals: With Nick Vigil now sidelined for at least a month and Vontaze Burfict potentially looking at league discipline after cheap-shotting Antonio Brown, Brown looks set for an every-down role and a substantial bump in IDP value.
Adrian Amos – S, Chicago Bears: Amos hasn't come close to realizing the DB1 potential that some IDP pundits (like me) saw in him before the season. But the veteran safety is coming off his best effort of the year and has a plus matchup on tap Sunday against the Patriots.
WEEK 7 IDP INJURY REPORT
Ray-Ray Armstrong – ILB, New York Giants (Concussion – IR): Armstrong's injury, in and of itself, isn't that big a deal for IDP owners. But it could mean an every-down role for BJ Goodson, and that's worth knowing for teams with a need at LB.
Budda Baker – S, Arizona Cardinals (Wrist): Baker has been on quite the hot streak, including a fumble return for a score last week against Minnesota. He was limited in practice to start the week, but isn't thought to be in danger of missing Thursday's matchup with the Broncos.
Eric Berry – S, Kansas City Chiefs (Heel): The Eric Berry Achilles injury that isn't an Achilles injury watch continues—we're now six weeks into the season and Berry has yet to practice, let alone play. It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.
Joey Bosa – DE, Los Angeles Chargers (Foot): Speaking of never-ending injury watches—Bosa's foot is still in a boot, and there's no end in sight. Gee…I wonder why his brother didn't want to risk re-injury by playing another game at Ohio State?
Jatavis Brown – OLB, Los Angeles Chargers (Groin): That the Chargers have been able to patch together a functioning LB corps is actually rather impressive given the injuries that have hit the position. Brown joined Kyzir White on the shelf last week, and his Week 7 status is questionable at best.
Josh Bynes – ILB, Arizona Cardinals (Wrist): Bynes spent some time on the injury report last week, but wound up playing against the Minnesota Vikings. With a short turnaround ahead of Thursday's date with the Broncos, keep an eye on his status.
Clayton Geathers – S, Indianapolis Colts (Neck): Geathers is out of the NFL's concussion protocol now, but there's still the matter of his neck injury to contend with. Given his history, that neck injury is no small matter.
Corey Graham – S, Philadelphia Eagles (Hamstring): On a short week one week ago, Graham missed last week's win over the Giants with a bad hammy. Check his practice participation ahead of Sunday's home date with the Panthers.
Everson Griffen – DE, Minnesota Vikings (Personal): There hasn't been a ton of news regarding Griffen or his progress in dealing with his personal issues of late. At day's end IDP owners shouldn't count on seeing him soon—or perhaps at all again this season.
Chandler Jones – DE, Arizona Cardinals (Groin): The Cardinals are all kinds of banged-up defensively heading into Week 7, but just as with Budda Baker and Josh Bynes Jones isn't thought to be in real jeopardy of sitting out against Denver.
Sean Lee – OLB, Dallas Cowboys (Hamstring): Lee hasn't seen the field for several weeks now, and there's been speculation the Cowboys intend to keep him out until after the bye. Don't count on the veteran linebacker being available any time soon.
Khalil Mack – OLB, Chicago Bears (Ankle): Mack's been nigh-unstoppable this season in Chicago, but he got his ankle rolled up late in last week's loss to Miami. He's expected to be OK, but track his practice participation later this week.
Marcus Maye – S, New York Jets (Thumb): Maye's been a highly productive fantasy asset this year when healthy. The problem is that he hasn't been able to stay healthy—including a broken thumb suffered last week that could sideline him up to a month.
Gerald McCoy – DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Foot): McCoy was spotted in a walking boot after last week's shootout loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and his availability for this week's game with Cleveland appears to be in doubt.
Joe Schobert – ILB, Cleveland Browns (Hamstring): After a top-five start to the season, Schobert was knocked from last Sunday's loss to the Chargers with a hamstring pull severe enough that he's going to miss at least one game.
Andrew Sendejo – S, Minnesota Vikings (Groin): Sendejo sat out last week's win over the Arizona Cardinals with an injured groin, giving way to George Iloka. The former's Week 7 status is uncertain at present. Turns out there was a reason for signing the latter.
Kenny Vaccaro – S, Tennessee Titans (Knee): Vaccaro won't be on the filed for the Titans Sunday in London. But with the team taking the following week off, the hope is he'll be able to return to practice and play in Week 9.
Nick Vigil – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (Knee): Vigil's been very productive for fantasy owners this season but his 2018 just hit a considerable snag. The 25-year-old sustained an MCL sprain against the Pittsburgh Steelers that is expected to sideline him at least a month.
Cameron Wake – DE, Miami Dolphins (Knee): Wake's well the wrong side of 30 and just had his knee scoped. He's also quite possibly a cyborg from the future, as there's hope in Miami that he may play against Detroit Sunday.
Wesley Woodyard – ILB, Tennessee Titans (Shoulder): Woodyard was a limited participant in practice most of last week, but wound up being a scratch anyway against the Ravens. Check how he progresses this week, especially with the Titans playing Sunday in London.
THE WHAT THE HECK DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE WAIVER PLAY OF THE WEEK
Genard Avery – ILB, Cleveland Browns (at TBB)
As Andrew Gribble wrote for the Browns website, Avery's made quite the dent in the first six games of his NFL career. "The Browns really liked Avery throughout the pre-draft process and cashed in big time when they were able to land him with a fifth-round pick," he said. "A middle linebacker at Memphis, Cleveland has tapped into what Avery does best -- rush the passer -- and unleashed him in that capacity. Now, with middle linebacker Joe Schobert poised to miss some time with a hamstring injury, Avery will be called upon to do even more as a regular at weakside linebacker."
There's no guarantee that Avery will step into an every-down role. In fact, it's more likely that the Browns will try to lean on veteran Jamie Collins more. But in Week 7 at least that may not matter to fantasy owners in need of a patch at linebacker. The Buccaneers are fourth in fantasy points allowed to linebackers this season, setting up the youngster as a nice spot-start.
GUYS I LIKE IN WEEK 7
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. HOU): Not only is Ngakoue a good waiver pickup in Week 7, but plug him in forthwith—the Texans are an IDP goldmine for d-linemen dating back to last season. Toward the top of the league in sacks allowed, No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to defensive linemen.
Stephen Weatherly – DE, Minnesota Vikings (at NYJ): Weatherly has alternated good and bad games since taking over for Everson Griffen. That would make this Sunday a good week—a real possibility given a top-five fantasy matchup with the Jets.
Leonard Williams – DE, New York Jets (vs. MIN): Some fantasy owners are likely wary of starting Williams after last week's goose-egg. Get over it—only two teams are giving up more fantasy points to the D-line.
Mark Barron – ILB, Los Angeles Rams (at SFO): Barron's one-assist Week was a result of cold weather in Denver affecting his sore Achilles. Assuming it isn’t snowing in San Francisco, he's going to both play more than 61 percent of the snaps and bounce back in a big way.
Christian Kirksey – OLB, Cleveland Browns (at TBB): If I liked Kirksey any more this week I'd be uncomfortable about it. With Schobert out the tackle opportunities are going to skyrocket in a top-five IDP matchup against the Buccaneers.
Anthony Walker – ILB, Indianapolis Colts (vs. BUF): The Bills are a steamer of an offense, but it's a steamer that continues allowing buckets of points to linebackers. Darius Leonard is set for a MONSTER Week 7, and Walker could be huge as well.
Justin Evans – S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CLE): Maybe it's because he's new to the NFL and wants to make friends. Maybe he's just a nice guy. But he's handing out turnovers like those nasty sugar-free lollipops the dentist gives to your kid. That's not cherry, Doc.
Micah Hyde – S, Buffalo Bills (at IND): Hyde's another defensive back I had high hopes for who hasn't met expectations. But both he and Jordan Poyer could be set for nice stat lines against a Colts team allowing the most fantasy points to defensive backs this season.
John Johnson – S, Los Angeles Rams (at SFO): With defensive backs, matchups are all the more important. Johnson had a good one last week and turned in four stops and an INT. He gets an even better one this Sunday in San Francisco.
GUYS I DON'T LIKE IN WEEK 7
Carlos Dunlap – DE, Cincinnati Bengals (at KCC): This goes for Geno Atkins as well (sigh). Don't look for a rebound from last week's dud against the Steelers. The Chiefs are last in the AFC in fantasy points allowed to defensive linemen and dead last in the league in sacks allowed.
Myles Garrett – DE, Cleveland Browns (at TBB): It pains me as a Browns fan to list Garrett here for the second week in a row. He's the sort of transcendent talent than can rise above a bad matchup. But it's still a bad matchup—and there was no rise last week against the Bolts.
Chandler Jones – DE, Arizona Cardinals (vs. DEN): This is partly about the fact that Jones is nicked up, and partly based on the matchup—Case Keenum might be a mess, but there are just two teams allowing fewer fantasy points to defensive linemen this season.
Preston Brown – ILB, Cincinnati Bengals (at KCC): If this trend holds all year long, it may be THE IDP storyline of 2018. Both of the NFL's top-two offenses in the opinion of most pundits are absolute garbage matchups for the linebacker position.
Eric Kendricks – ILB, Minnesota Vikings (at NYJ): Kendricks is a very good NFL linebacker. But he's just a so-so IDP LB2 when the matchup's right. Over the last couple of weeks, when they haven't been, there are many better options available.
Brandon Marshall – ILB, Denver Broncos (at ARZ): This rather feels like piling on Marshall, who has done next to nothing this year. It's less an admonition that he's no longer startable than it is the reality that Marshall's really no longer rosterable.
Derwin James – S, Los Angeles Chargers (at TEN): James has been out-flipping-standing as a rookie from both an NFL and fantasy perspective, but this would be a bad matchup if it was happening in Nashville. In London, it's that much worse.
Reshad Jones – SS, Miami Dolphins (vs. DET): The folks who drafted Jones early know exactly how Bobby Wagner owners feel—the combo platter of injury and disappointing stat lines over the first six weeks. Week 7 doesn't set up well for a pivot point. The Lions have been stingy to defensive backs.
Harrison Smith – SS, Minnesota Vikings (at NYJ): Smith came roaring out of the gate to open the season, but he's cooled way off since. That's not apt to reverse this week against the worst matchup in fantasy football for defensive backs.
THE SCRAP-HEAP STREAMING CORNERBACK PLAY OF THE WEEK
In recent years the number of dependable weekly fantasy starters at the cornerback position has dwindled to just about zero. So as a service to those hearty souls who play in IDP leagues that require them, each week I’ll point out a player at that position available in many leagues who should serve as a fine streaming option.
Donte Jackson, Carolina Panthers (at PHI): Jackson got off to a red-hot start, but between an early bye and a bit of a cool-off of late the rookie's available in as many leagues as not. If he is, make with the scooping. If you can't, James Bradberry is a nice consolation prize. Either way, the Eagles are a money matchup for cornerbacks dating back to last year's Super Bowl run.