How to Crown a Fantasy Football Winner on the Cheap

The true glory of winning your fantasy football league lies in the year’s worth of bragging rights, so who needs a massive pot anyway?

Are you ready for some (fantasy) football?! Yes, football season will be returning soon, which means fantasy football season is returning right about … now. As the quarterbacks throw the football around, you and the rest of your league will be tossing around numbers and trades, trying to pull ahead week after week until the season ends and a winner is crowned.

But it can get expensive. Online leagues have fees, and you’ll have to drop a pretty penny on wings and beer when everyone gets together to watch the game. And of course, everyone needs to contribute a lot of cash to the pot so you have a treasure trove with which to crown the eventual winner.

Or do you?! We spoke to the experts to find out how you can enjoy your fantasy football league without turning your bank account into a fantasy.

Stay league loyal.

It might be tempting to join as many leagues as possible. You could draft different players, and then even if you end up flopping in one league, you might still have a chance to compete in one of the other leagues. And even beyond winning, it’s a chance to make even more friends and have even more fun.

But it’s also a chance to spend even more money.

“Avoid joining multiple (or at least too many) leagues,” advised Colin, of The Colin Card. “The possibility of striking gold tempts many people to join several leagues each season, but more often than not, this simply results in stretching yourself too thin and paying multiple entry fees. Joining fewer (1-2) leagues gives yourself a better chance to juggle the time commitment and minimize your expense.”

And that’s pretty much the only advice you can use if you don’t have a hand in planning the league you’re a member of. But you probably do, since you’re probably playing with friends. Or at least, hopefully, people who have a basic respect for your input.

Reconsider the fees.

One way to cut down the cost of entry fees is to just cut the cost of entry fees. Pretty straightforward!

Lower the entry fee and re-weight the payout structure,” suggested Colin. “Most leagues award the top three finishers portions of the total pot. Consider lowering the overall entry fee for your league and re-weighting the payouts such that only the top two finishers get payouts, for example.

“While there will be fewer winners, the losers (who, by definition, are in the majority) have to pay less, which the winners should manage to stomach since they are earning a higher percentage of the total pot!”

And speaking of the pot …

Get creative.

Traditionally, everyone puts in money to enter the league and the money that isn’t spent on the fees for whatever service you’re using or other expenses are put in the pot that the winner gets. But what if you took a different approach to organizing the prizes and how you manage the league in general?

James Stefurak, Founder and Editor of The Invoice Factoring Guide, shared his longtime fantasy football experience with us:

“I am going on my 19th season of playing college fantasy football. We take three conferences (we use Big 10/SEC/ACC) which has about the same number of teams as the NFL. We started playing right out of college when rotisserie NFL leagues were just beginning. But we were strictly college football junkies and still are.

“We started out doing it all completely for free on a spreadsheet we created and tallying the points manually with ESPN box score stats. That got pretty tedious after a while and we switched to Fantrax which charges league commissioners about $100 but they take care of everything. When you break that cost down between 8 teams, it’s manageable.

“When we started out of school, the pot was nothing—the last place guy would just have to buy drinks for the other guys at the bar one night and have to wear something silly (bridal veil, fake mustache, a rival jersey, etc). It was just for the fun of it; being able to all go out, watch the games, cheer on our players, and talk trash.

“I still wish we did it like that but we are now older with kids, etc. Today, the pot is more substantial and is now played almost entirely online with players from different areas, friends of friends, etc. Not the same, but still fun.”

Lenny Pappano, co-founder of Draft Sharks (@Draftsharks) offered his own advice for keeping costs down while still offering some fun rewards for the winners and penalties for the losers:

“I’ve seen leagues in which the last place team pays for dinner for everyone at the end of the season. Or, conversely, everyone throws in $50 to start the year and the WINNER buys everyone dinner at the end.

“Another interesting twist is having side bets between teams when they play head-to-head. Winner gets a 6-pack of favorite beer, or the loser has to wear a hat with the winner’s favorite NFL team logo. You’re really only limited by your imagination.”

Now get out there and hit the virtual field! If you want to learn more about saving money, check out these related posts from OppLoans:

How does your fantasy football league crown its winner? We want to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Colin is a New York City-based blogger who writes about New York City, travel, and sports. His favorite teams are the New York Giants and Scuderia Ferrari. More of his musings can be found at
Lenny Pappano is the co-founder of (@Draftsharks), co-founder of the World Championship of Fantasy Football, and 2018 Winner of Matthew Berry’s “Game Changer” Award.
James Stefurak, CFA is the Founder and Editor of The Invoice Factoring Guide, a web resource providing funding information for startups and small businesses. He lives in Melbourne, FL with his wife and four children.

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