Bypassing casual fantasy leagues to play in a high-payout money league is analogous to playing cards in a casino instead of a home game. With money leagues, you get all the enjoyment of a seasonal fantasy league, but with a guaranteed cash prize.
We’re talking big, guaranteed payouts.
But beware. Fantasy football money league players are principally skilled, somewhat obsessed, and frequently smarter than the typical players you find in casual or public leagues.
Joining a money league can be a great way to make extra cash during the NFL season – assuming you know the most profitable leagues to join. In this article, I take a look at the best money leagues of 2019, what makes them unique, and how much cash you stand to win if you take home the championship.
Comparing Money Leagues with the Best Payouts
I scoured the web to find the most reputable sites that host fantasy football leagues for money. The following comparison table lists the best fantasy football money leagues, their cheapest and most expensive leagues (with top prize payouts), and the highest cash payout you can expect win across all of their seasonal contests.
|Money League||Min Entry/Payout||Max Entry/Payout||Largest Payout||Draft Types||Escrows Funds||Software Platform|
|Fantasy Football's Player Championship||$35 / $300||$1,750 / $500,000||$500,000||Live Snake, Auction||Mark W. Yaros, Esq||Proprietary|
|Real Time Fantasy Sports||$30 / $200||$2,000 / $12,000||$200,000||Live Snake||No||Proprietary|
|Masters FFL League||$31 / $180||$2,719 / $19,000||$19,000||Live Snake, Email||Huntington National Bank||Proprietary|
|Fuzzy's Fantasy Football||$25 / $125||$1,500 / $10,500||$10,500||Live Snake, Auction, Email||No||Proprietary|
|Apex Fantasy Leagues||$69.95 / $465||$999.95 / $7,500||$7,500||Live Snake, Email, Auction||No||MyFantasyLeague|
|Data Force FF||$20 / $122||$1,000 / $5,932||$5,932||Live Snake, Email, Auction||Daeh Law||Proprietary & MyFantasyLeague|
Choosing a Money League that Matches your Ability and Payout Goals
Maybe you can’t find enough friends to fill up a private fantasy football league. Perhaps you’re sick of your boring league settings and want to try out a new format. Maybe you’ve grown tired of beating your friends and are ready for a bigger challenge with a more significant payout.
Whatever your reason for branching out, the right prize league can be your ticket to a winning season with a pot of gold waiting at the end of the playoffs. But with so much prize money on the line, it’s essential to educate yourself about how they operate.
Playing in the wrong league can be expensive, and a potential money drain if you don’t understand the league rules.
How Fantasy Football Money Leagues Work
Online money league fantasy sites perform several critical functions for their participating owners. These include:
- Collect league fees – They collect league fees from all owners before the season starts, ensuring you don’t have to deal with deadbeat owners.
- Fill leagues to capacity – They actively recruit owners to ensure their paid fantasy leagues are full and can award the highest cash prize possible.
- Act as commissioner – They handle league disputes should they arise, letting you focus more on winning and less on league affairs.
- Distribute the winnings – The promptly pay each league champion after the season ends.
Money leagues offer a variety of league types, points scoring systems, and payout structures. These include standard scoring leagues, PPR leagues, and just every other derivation you can imagine.
For those looking to make a longer-term commitment, you can join a new keeper or dynasty money leagues as well. You can even adopt an orphaned team from an existing cash fantasy football league (usually at a discounted price).
Let’s look at some of the more obscure types of cash leagues.
Specialized Money League Formats
While most money leagues support your standard seasonal league formats, some cash league hosts do offer obscure formats. Let’s look at a few specific money league formats in more detail.
Super Bracket Tournament Money Leagues
Super Bracket Money Leagues support a significant number of owners and organize teams into tournament-style brackets. These are similar to what you’d see in a March Madness bracket.
In this type of cash league, you move on if you win. But if you lose just once, you’re out. The tournament goes on until they crown the final, undefeated champion.
Best Ball Fantasy Football Leagues are set and forget
Best Ball Money Leagues are common and seem to be growing in popularity each year. You draft a team at the start of a season and automatically accumulate points from your top performing players.
In Best Ball Leagues, you never have to worry about trades, waivers, or even setting a weekly lineup. It’s the ultimate set it and forget it fantasy football league.
Terminator Money Leagues are similar to survivor pools
Terminator leagues are almost identical to Best Ball leagues, but with the added wrinkle that every week you have to terminate a player from your roster. In this way, they are similar to survivor pools that ask you to pick NFL game winners until you lose.
You start with 26 players on your roster and play in weekly head-to-head games. Try to build the best record as your team shrinks down to your final 11 players.
As you might guess, in Terminator Leagues it’s critical to draft an incredibly deep roster of players. Staying current with reputable fantasy football advice sites can help you prepare for the big day.
Does your state permit fantasy football leagues for money?
Playing free fantasy football is legal in all US states for players of any age. But once you try to join fantasy leagues for money, you must abide by federal and state laws.
Real money fantasy football leagues are considered a form of gambling, so sites do not let players under a certain age participate. This minimum age is typically eighteen years old, though in some states you must be twenty-one.
Make sure you check the fine print on your money site’s terms of service before signing up. You may also have to validate your identity, similar to what you have to do to play on the most popular DFS sites.
Find an entry fee and payout structure that works for your budget
Money league entry fees range in price from tens to thousands of dollars. As such, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a league that you can comfortably afford.
Your typical cash league will pay-out between 55% and 88% of the total entry fees. The money league host keeps the remaining balance as a fee for administering the league.
As a general rule, smaller-stakes leagues pay out a smaller percentage of the total prize pool than the larger buy-in ones. Some money leagues also award the best teams with entries into leagues with more significant payouts.
Reputable fantasy money leagues take extra steps to safeguard your winnings
Make sure that the fantasy site you choose has a track record of reliability. Trustworthy money leagues make prompt payments to winners, ensure owner data is kept secure, and govern their leagues fairly.
I’ve done some of this work for you by only reviewing sites that have a solid online reputation.
Understand the host software that drives your paid fantasy football league of choice
Some paid fantasy football leagues develop proprietary software to host their leagues. For these league hosts, you’ll manage your team on the same website where you paid your league fees.
Other paid sites are simply facilitators, middle-men that manage league affairs like creating and filling leagues, distributing payouts, handling league disputes, etc. These types of cash leagues utilize established fantasy sites like My Fantasy League to host their leagues.
Both types of money league host are entirely legit. But if you have a preference for the league host software you’ll be using, this is something you’ll want to research thoroughly.
The Best Fantasy Football Money Leagues of 2019
Preparing this article, I spent considerable time researching and analyzing the best fantasy football money leagues I could find online. Below, I review my favorite paid fantasy leagues for 2019.
Remember that each fantasy money league has a unique angle that sets them apart. As such, it’s essential to understand what each has to offer before you sign-up.
The following fantasy football money league reviews summarize the strong (and weak) points of each paid site so you can make an informed decision about where to spend your money.
Custom options abound in Masters Fantasy Football Cash Leagues
Masters Fantasy Football Leagues hosts money leagues ranging from $30 Tin leagues all the way up to $2,665 Titanium leagues. Their Titanium leagues are some of the best paid fantasy football leagues if you’re looking for both significant payouts and limited owners.
They support standard, playoff, and dynasty fantasy leagues (on proprietary software), including an option to claim orphaned dynasty teams. Masters also hosts mid-season leagues for seasonal owners who’ve seen their rosters devastated by injury, hit a streak of bad luck, or just weren’t able to join a league at the beginning of the season.
Masters’ $19,000 Titanium leagues have some of the best payouts for a single league fantasy championship prize. And they keep all of their prize money in escrow, so you know your money will be safe.
RealTime hosts the largest variety of fantasy football prize leagues
RealTime Fantasy Sports hosts some of the most reputable money leagues online. They’ve been around for over 20 years, so you know they’re legit.
Of all the fantasy football pay leagues in this article, RealTime Fantasy Sports has the most significant number of league types from which to choose. Their site currently lists thirteen different money league variations.
I particularly like the fact that RealTime hosts two different types of playoff leagues: the Playoff Challenge and a $50,000 PostSeason Shootout. These leagues are a fun way to extend your season if you didn’t advance to the playoffs in a standard league.
Play 2-Game weeks at Apex Fantasy Leagues
Apex hosts fantasy football cash leagues on the MyFantasyLeague platform. They advertise some of the highest payouts of any money league hosts and even support leagues that prefer auction drafts.
They pay 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers, whereas most paid leagues only pay the top one or two teams. Third place finishers typically win their money back, but that can still help soothe the sting of a playoff loss.
Apex Fantasy Leagues pioneered an exciting twist on fantasy league scheduling: the two-game week. This format mitigates the fantasy luck factor by pairing you with both an H2H opponent and against the average league score (each week).
So if you have a huge week, but happen to play the league’s top scorer, you’ll finish that week 1-1. This is because you’ll lose to the other team, but beat the league average. The 2-game per week format is a smart way to help ensure the top owners usually end in the money.
Data Force offers money leagues with minimal buy-in
Data Force has been in the computer software business since 1987, but they’ve only been hosting NFL fantasy money leagues since 2015. One look at their site and you can tell this is a mom and pop shop that pays attention to detail and values customer service.
Although they do manage some leagues on their proprietary software, Data Force hosts most of their leagues on MyFantasyLeague.com. This facilitates standard, flex, super-flex, keeper, dynasty, and salary cap leagues of various sizes. Buy-ins range from $20 to $1000.
Data Force’s high payout percentages prove they host the best pay fantasy football leagues for owners seeking the best return on their entry fee. Even their low-stakes money leagues pay out as much as 80% of the total prize pool, and this rate can climb as high as 98% for their big payout leagues.
Fuzzy’s Fantasy Football is a simple site with generous payouts
One look at Fuzzy’s league lobby and you’ll think you’ve entered the Wayback Machine circa 1994. But even though their site design is dated, you can tell that they run their leagues fairly.
Fuzzy’s Fantasy Football hosts quite a large number of leagues with entry fees varying from $25 to $1,500. Their payouts range from 60%-93% of the buy-in, with higher stakes leagues offering significant returns.
If those payouts just won’t cut it, and you’re looking for higher stakes money leagues, Fuzzies has you covered. Contact them directly, and they’ll arrange leagues with up to $5K buy-ins. Their testimonials show that their customer base is pleased with their services.
The Fantasy Football Player’s Championship has the biggest payouts
The Fantasy Football Player’s Championship website hosts tons of money leagues that cater to owners specializing in high stakes fantasy football. They conduct the two online tournaments with the most massive cash payouts, one being equivalent to the fantasy football world championship.
Their FootballGuys’ Player’s Championship is an elite fantasy football league with a top payout of $250,000. It also has a total prize pool of over two million dollars.
Their FFPC Main Event is the best fantasy football league if you’re looking for the highest possible single payout: a whopping $500,000! This jackpot is the biggest fantasy football league that you’ll encounter, hosting over 1200 teams.
This 3-day event is held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino and is one of the biggest parties in the fantasy football world. There are live drafts, game viewing parties, and other Vegas-style shenanigans round the clock.
The Benefits of Paid Fantasy Football Leagues
Seasonal fantasy football owners enjoy money leagues for several reasons. For one, it frees them of commissioner duties. Also, some cash league formats (like best ball leagues) require less active management.
But more than anything else, the best fantasy football league sites offer significant, guaranteed payouts. It’s these cash prizes that make money leagues attractive to owners looking for more than your standard fantasy trophy.