A Q&A with Hall of Famer Kimra Schleicher
Interview by Brad Evans
Though the fantasy football female demographic has steadily grown over the past decade, the addictive game is still dominated by Y chromosomes. As a result, most women, rookies and veterans alike, are often labeled “easy money” when competing against the opposite sex. However, one femme fatale of the virtual gridiron, unfazed by the trash talking men in her leagues, has held the bank bag in the end again … and again … and again. Meet Kimra Schleicher, a hard-working attorney, mother and Toyota Hall of Fame fantasy football guru. Below she discusses her past experiences and sheds light on what to expect for the upcoming season. Dudes, pay attention.
Q: Fantasy Football is predominantly played by males, but you own them in competition. Talk about your experience as the Queen of the Virtual Gridiron.
A:I grew up in a home with all boys, a mother who played college basketball and a father who was a licensed high school official so I really have a great understanding of how sports can affect our daily lives. I have very fond memories of participating in sports and watching my brothers play on several different teams as well. My overall experiences playing in a male dominated hobby has been nothing short of amazing! All of the guys I have played against are very friendly and have always been respectful towards me. I have made several friends across the United States from participating in high stakes leagues in Las Vegas to the Kentucky Fantasy Football State Championship (kffsc.com). There are numerous great players who I admire competing against and I am always watching them to pick up on details regarding draft strategy or tips on how to better prepare for a draft.
Q: Discovering the right draft strategy, as you know, is the backbone of ensuring initial success in fantasy. With the NFL evolving into a pass-happy league in recent years, how has your strategy changed? What’s your game-plan this year?
A: Offense sells tickets and defense wins the game! The NFL is a pass happy league and we have seen the emergence of the West Coast offense take root within several coaching staffs. Bill Walsh was one of the first coaches to use the passing game to set up the running game. You must understand the coaching staff and their system. Players like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers are fantasy studs at their position because of the system and their incredible accuracy. I generally do not own these players because the price tag is too high and they require a first or second round pick. My QB selection depends upon the league scoring rules. If I am receiving 4 points per passing TD, I will wait until at least until round six to find a middle tier QB like a Tony Romo or Philip Rivers. My theory is if I am going to wait on selecting a QB, I want to the be the first to select my backup so I basically end up with two viable QBs and play the matchups each week. If I am in a 6 point per passing TD, I will begin to look at a QB in the third or fourth round. Remember, the last two seasons when Cam Newton was a late round selection to undrafted and Michael Vick was the 2010 waiver wire pick up of the year. I believe you don’t have to own a top tier QB to win your league each year.
Q: Of course, draft day is just the first step in winning a league. What are a couple in-season tips people should be aware of? How early do you bail on previously proven players that might be struggling? Do you typically make waiver moves/trades immediately?
A: Always understand your league’s waiver wire process and be active on the waiver wire each week. Ensure you have all of your handcuffs to your stud players and look for players who have the opportunity to see additional playing time. I generally do not carry more than one kicker or two defenses at a time during the regular season. I use those extra available positions to stockpile RBs and WRs. On Tuesday, you should always find a great source like Yahoo! to review the previous weekend’s games. I listen to the Brad Evans-hosted Fantasy Freak Show and utilize other fantasy football sources to find out additional team information. Do not take the fantasy advice of NFL players. It is the coach who decides who is going to play each week. I generally do not bail on a player especially if I spent a high draft pick on him. I might bench him due to a matchup but I won’t drop him unless he is out for the season.
Q: Who is the one player you will absolutely avoid in drafts this year?
A: There are a few … Jahvid Best, Stephen Jackson and Adrian Peterson. Let someone else draft them. You want to draft explosive players with high upside and little risk.
Q: Who is sleeping way too hard?
A: There are several good sleeper candidates out there this year but I am going with Nate Washington. Kenny Britt has too many legal problems and most believe Jake Locker will eventually be the QB. Nate Washington thrived in this offense last year and will have a significant role moving forward this year. You should be able to draft him late and get considerable value with this pick. My runner-up sleeper is Reggie Wayne because he is a veteran and the Colts will be playing from behind in most games.
Q: Finally, what is the one piece of advice you would offer a fantasy novice?
A: I am a fan of re-draft leagues but I would encourage anyone who loves fantasy football to get involved in various other leagues like an auction, draftmasters, dynasty or keeper league. Make draft day a fun event if you are in a local league. Make it an all day affair with a cookout and a trophy presentation for the previous year’s winner. Also, I encourage you to attend as many live events as possible to meet others who are as equally as passionate about this hobby. Although I like to win, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the friends you meet along the way! Happy drafting and best of luck in 2012!