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Kimra Schleicher won the Fantasy Football World Championships making history and becoming the first-ever female champion. We recently conducted an interview with Kimra to get to know her a little bit better and learn how she became such a successful high-stakes owner!
Kimra started off by making sure she thanked her fiercest competitor in this year’s FFWC and the second-place finisher Mark Mitchell:
"I would like to thank Mark Mitchell for reaching out to me the following day to congratulate me. He was absolutely amazing! To lose the championship in the last 1:06 of the MNF game between the Lions and Cowboys must have been heartbreaking to him. However, he was one of the first people to contact me. He is a class act! Thank you, Mark!”
We asked Kimra to give us a little background on her family, and how she became the incredible person and competitor she is today:
“I grew up in southern Indiana in a very competitive family. Growing up with three boys and active parents who loved sports just as much as we did helped to fuel the competitive spirit that I have today. Growing up, we were all very active in sports, and after law school, I began to coach AAU and became a licensed high school basketball official part time. Due to my work schedule as an attorney, it became increasingly difficult to continue to coach and be an official. I always loved football and the NFL. I grew up a Miami Dolphins fan because of Bob Griese! My brothers were Dallas Cowboys fans, so there were some very good games to watch in the late 70’s and 80’s! Today, I am a new Orleans Saints fan because of Drew Brees! Needless to say, he is my favorite NFL player on and off the field.”
She was asked how she got started down the path of becoming an FFWC champion:
“In 2002, my best friend in Indianapolis called and asked me if I would be interested in playing in a fantasy football league. She said someone dropped out of the league and it was a group of guys from her work. I said sure, why not! I always loved competition. Needless to say, I didn’t fare very well in those first couple of years. I had no idea what I was doing. In those early years, I read as much as I could regarding fantasy football and taught myself how to draft a competitive team. In 2004, I saw an advertisement for a high stakes tournament in Las Vegas. I decided to take a leap of faith, and as luck would have it, I finished 10th overall in my first season. After that inaugural season, I was hooked on fantasy football. Today, I am blessed with a wonderful and supportive family who allow me to participate in high stakes tournaments! They are always interested in my teams, and some of my family members are even co-managers on a couple of my teams in the Kentucky Fantasy Football State Championship (KFFSC). Fantasy football is truly a family affair in our household!”
Kimra continued in depth about how she built this championship Fantasy squad:
“Due to the 11 man roster in the FFWC, it is common for many managers to draft WRs early and often. You may see some teams draft five consecutive WRs before taking a RB. I have always leaned towards the WR position due to the PPR rules, but I won’t hesitate to take a stud RB who has pass catching abilities. Those bell cow RBs are few and far between in the NFL now. With my FFWC team, I wanted to have a heavy RB team vs. a 5 WR lineup. Rather than focusing on WRs, I wanted to focus on stud RBs and start only 3-4 WRs if possible. Normally, the guys refer to me as the “yellow sticker girl” due to my drafting habits of snagging every high performing WR I can find early in the draft. This team was different! My first pick in this draft was in the sixth position. I absolutely love David Johnson, and I selected him as the first RB in the draft. He finished as the top ranked RB at the end of the season.
My second pick was easy. I knew Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t going to make it back to me, so I concentrated on Le’Veon Bell. Many drafters discounted Bell because of the initial three-game suspension. With a 13 week FFWC season, he was a clear value in the second round. I knew once he returned from the suspension, he would be a top 3 RB the rest of the season. He was the clear value pick on my team.
In Round 3 is where my team got interesting. I wanted desperately to pick LeSean McCoy or Devonta Freeman with my 3rd pick. I remember sitting at my computer thinking this is the home run pick but I got a little nervous because of the WR run. Instead of staying true to my initial plan, I decided to select Golden Tate. With no Calvin Johnson, I knew Tate would receive several targets in 2016.
Kimra's Draft Board (outlined in red)
In the fourth round, I wanted Michael Crabtree, and I got him. With the emerging Oakland offense, this was an easy pick for me. At the conclusion of the season, Crabtree actually outperformed Amari Cooper.
In Round 5, I wanted DeMarco Murray and missed on him and thought Melvin Gordon might fall to me in the sixth. Once again, with the run on receivers, I decided to go with Sterling Shepard. This wasn’t my greatest pick, but he was steady during the season opposite of Odell Beckham, Jr.
In the sixth round, Gmen took Melvin Gordon from me. I then decided to pick the PPR machine-Danny Woodhead. Unfortunately, Woodhead suffered a season-ending injury early in the season.
My next pick was Devin Funchess in the seventh round. This was by far my worst selection. I overestimated Funchess and the Carolina offense. I would have preferred Stefon Diggs, Travis Benjamin or Travis Kelce but there were some very skilled drafters in this league on each side of me in the draft.
Many may say I won the championship with my next selection. In the eighth round, I selected Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints. Thomas finished the season ahead of Brandin Cooks who was being selected in the second round. The value play here was Thomas as he finished as a top 10 WR at the end of the season.
I selected Christine Michael as my fourth RB in the ninth round. I wanted to use Michael as my flex throughout the season. He was solid throughout the early portion of the season until he lost his position to CJ Prosise.
This was an easy selection for me in the tenth round. I could select a top 5 QB who happens to be my favorite NFL player. He was a bargain in the tenth round as he finished the season ranked third overall behind Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.
My goal in Rounds 11-13 was to select the two best TEs available. Unfortunately, Martellus Bennett and Dwayne Allen were hit and miss most of the season. I eventually replaced Allen with a waiver wire pickup of Cameron Brate. He was a great waiver wire addition and finished as a top 8 TE.
In Round 12, I selected Anquan Boldin as a potential backup to Golden Tate or possibly a flex player.
In Round 13, I was looking for a solid backup QB and selected Carson Palmer.
For the remaining draft, I was looking for RBs with upside and handcuffs to my stud RBs. I selected Rob Kelly due to the Matt Jones’ fumbling issues and Robert Turbin because I thought Frank Gore was about to slow down! The rest of my draft was to focus on a top tiered defense, kicker and find the best player available. Arizona, Graham Gano and JJ Nelson rounded out the remaining part of my draft.”
She concluded by telling us just how much it meant to her to win the championship and why the Fantasy Football World Championships are so special to her:
“Participating in the Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) is very special to me because I am personal friends of Ian Ritchie, Mark Deming, Emil Kadlec and Scott Atkins. I met Ian, Mark and Emil in 2004 and they were always very encouraging to me over the years as a player. I learned how to successfully draft a team and manage the waiver wire early on. Before the FFWC, Ian and Mark were ranked in the top 5 of manager rankings. They were always very successful in fantasy football! I have truly been amazed at how far this event has progressed in the last five years. I have always been a strong advocate for the FFWC because the lineup is an 11 man roster, the best players in the industry participate in the FFWC, and the live event in Las Vegas is second to none!
My fantasy career started with a leap of faith, has been fueled by persistence and enhanced with the help of others to whom I am forever grateful. Winning has been my consistent goal; its realization is a most extraordinary experience!”