Maybe high stakes isn’t the best terminology for these “big time”, heavily marketed, brand name fantasy football leagues/tournaments/contests. Some are relatively low stakes, actually, but they still fall into the high stakes arena because the prize is on the higher end. They just have more people playing, decreasing the odds of winning, but still paying out enough in terms of a grand prize they can brag about. Like winning the lotto – just imagine.
Anyway, my darling wife gave me the green light to spend some money on these leagues this season, assuming of course I don’t overextend myself on leagues which has happened, oh, about every year for the last 10+ years. Going into this year though, I did drop a few dynasty leagues. I do feel a little empty space in my fantasy football availability. Use it to take a chance at a big chunk of change playing fantasy football? Maybe.
To help decide, I thought I’d run down a comparison of these various leagues. I can’t cover everything off about each contest in a short blog post, but I’ll hit the main points that are of primary concern (structure, entry fee, payout) and key items that separate these contests from one another.
Structure: 10 team leagues, 10 starters, 20 roster spots, starting lineup includes flex QB/RB/WR/TE, performance scoring with 4 point passing TD and no points for receptions. Regular season weeks 1-9, league championship week 10, playoff brackets weeks 11-16. Accepting as many entries as possible.
Entry fee: $75 on or before Aug. 20, $100 after, plus a tiering system whereby you pay more for an entry to loosen the qualifications to advance to the Vegas ($1M) bracket.
Payout: $1 million grand prize, plus various bracket prizes. Small combo of cash/credit for winning your league.
The available flex QB really increases the value of QB in these leagues. Every team will desire to start 2 QB per week. This contest is operated by Fanball, which is owned by a public company, providing good assurance on the payout even though this is only FFOC’s second year of existence.
Still, there are long odds to win this thing considering unlimited entries. I’m not really keen on the tiered buy-in system. If someone has the money, they can choose to pay $275 per team (instead of $75) and only have to finish in the top 6 (of 10) in their league to qualify for the Vegas bracket.
World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCFF)
Structure: 12 team leagues, 10 starters, 20 roster spots, starting lineup includes flex RB/WR/TE, performance scoring with 4 point passing TD and 1 point per reception. Regular season weeks 1-11, league semis week 12 and league championship week 13, playoff brackets weeks 14-16. Upper limit of 200 leagues.
Entry fee: $300
Payout: $10,000 grand prize, $2,000 1st place or $300 2nd place league prize.
It appears there were 624 entries, or 52 leagues in the 2008 online championship, which improves the payout percentage considerably from what it would be under the maximum 200 leagues scenario. There are quite a few alternative options available from WCFF, including the main event live draft spread across four major U.S. cities the opening weekend of the season with a $300,000 grand prize at stake. I focussed on the online championship since it seemed to suit my budget and needs the best.
National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC)
Structure: 12 team leagues, 10 starters, 20 roster spots, starting lineup includes flex RB/WR/TE, performance scoring with 6 point passing TD, 0.5 point per reception (PPR) for RB and 1 PPR for WR/TE. Regular season weeks 1-13, playoff brackets weeks 14-16. Upper limit of 50 leagues.
Entry fee: $350
Payout: $20,000 grand prize, $1,350 1st place or $650 2nd place league prize.
Just a glance at the similar entry fee but double grand prize and much lower maximum number of leagues would seem to indicate this is a better value than the WCFF option, although the maximum leagues may not be achieved by either contest.
NFFC uses a unique 3 round reversal (3RR) draft method whereby instead of the first team drafting 1st, 24th and 25th under a normal serpentine, the first team drafts 1st, 24th and 36th. This is to even up the perceived advantage of drafting 1st overall. NFFC also uses Kentucky Derby Style (KDS) system allowing owners to rank their order of draft preference instead of a straight random assignment of the draft order.
Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC)
Structure: 12 team leagues, 10 starters, 20 roster spots, starting lineup includes dual flex RB/WR/TE, performance scoring with 4 point passing TD, 1 point per reception (PPR) for RB/WR and 1.5 PPR for TE. Regular season weeks 1-11, league semis week 12 and league championship week 13, playoff brackets weeks 14-16. Upper limit of 300 teams (25 leagues).
Entry fee: $1,400 entry
Payout: $75,000 grand prize (based on 204-228 teams), $4,000 league championship.
This one is run “by fantasy players, for fantasy players”, and you can tell – in a good way. The two main cogs, Alex and Dave, are extremely active communicating with all participants and pro-active operating the event in the best interest of those playing FFPC. For example, FFPC holds the entire prize fund in escrow to help ensure players are never shortchanged the money owed to them at the conclusion of the contest.
I suspect from surfing the message board that the competition in FFPC is tougher than average. FFPC brought over many players who met one another from playing annually in WCFF, to form a somewhat exclusive group of experienced high stakes fantasy players. FFPC is focussed on the main event plus some satellite leagues. While the main event does have an online option, the entry fee is probably more than I’d be willing to shell out right now, but I may play in a satellite league.
Structure: 12 team leagues, 10 starters, 20 roster spots, starting lineup includes flex RB/WR/TE, performance scoring with 3 point passing TD and 1 point per reception. Regular season weeks 1-11, post-season weeks 12-16. Accepting as many entries as possible.
Entry fee: $9.99 but first entry is free using code “go4it”
Payout: $250,000 grand prize, (very) small combo of cash/credit for winning your league.
For free, I’ll try one draft, but I take it the draft runs at a higher speed than normal so you probably have to get used to it before you truly get a good feel for drafting on this system. The thing I still don’t entirely understand about this concept is that if they are pushing the draft as the greatest thing about fantasy football, which I agree with, why are we rushing through it (i.e. rapid speed) to get it done so quickly?