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Fantasy football is incredibly popular, with tens of millions of people taking part each year. Many leagues are casual affairs where friends or coworkers simply play for fun, although they may have a small buy-in and play for money. There's a multitude of ways to play, from gaming out entire seasons to weekly contests. Some of these even operate year round, so you’re not just limited to the regular football season. Beginners and veterans alike can confidently enter the game with fantasy football draft kits and begin competing for cash or glory. Of course, both small and large money leagues contain the same risks as other forms of gambling, so proceeding with caution is advised.
Maybe you already know all that. Maybe you’ve been competing for a few years, you’re feeling confident in your game and you want to check out something with higher stakes. In that case, leagues such as the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) are for you. Obviously, high stakes leagues require a higher investment than others, typically at least $1,500, but the prizes are much bigger. Grand prizes of $500,000 aren’t uncommon, and there are some great runner-up consolations as well.
The most important aspect to any game is the scoring system, and if you’ve been playing fantasy football for any amount of time, then you should know the popular scoring systems and how they work. You’ll need to be especially familiar with PPR leagues, as all high stakes fantasy leagues use this format.
If you’ve never played in a PPR (points-per-reception) league before, the main difference is that fractional or full points are awarded to wide receivers and tight ends for complete receptions. This makes these players more valuable than they would be in other formats and adds further depth to the game. The PPR format works the same in high stakes leagues as it does in low-cost ones, but you may want to update your strategies if you aren’t used to it.
The legality of high stakes fantasy is essentially the same as low cost. The reason for this is that fantasy sports are considered games dependent on the relative knowledge and/or skill of participants. To put it another way, fantasy football doesn’t leave its outcome entirely to chance, like most illegal forms of gambling. Some have found this distinction controversial, but high stakes fantasy leagues are reputable and known to make their payouts quickly.
Length of Play
Low-cost fantasy leagues tend to have a variety of options for time investment, ranging from traditional season-long competitions to quicker contests offering new teams on a weekly basis. High stakes games tend to focus more on the long haul. This is likely due in part to the high payouts: The winner “earns” it over the course of an entire season. It also adds excitement to the game (though it might quickly turn to stress) when you make a larger investment in both money and time.
Playing against the NFL?
Possibly the biggest difference between low-cost and high stakes leagues is the amount of attention high stakes games draw from the NFL itself. While players and coaches are unlikely to think much about the thousands of free or low-cost leagues, the amount of money involved in high stakes games is a different story. One reason for this is the potential moral quandary that arises from the knowledge that some fantasy players are undoubtedly NFL players, coaches, or insiders themselves. Additionally, there is enough money riding on these leagues that players and coaches may feel pressured about outcomes. An anonymous coach likened it to the days of people gambling illegally with bookies. It remains to be seen if fantasy football will ever be properly accused of affecting the integrity of the game.
If you’re looking to make your next fantasy year more exciting, a high stakes league may be exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re already used to a full season affair with PPR scoring, you should fit right in. But make sure to review everything closely before making a big investment.