*FIRST OF ALL, MAKE SURE YOU CLICK ON THIS LINK BELOW – IT WAS TOO BIG TO FIT ON A PAGE SO YOU HAVE TO DOWNLOAD IT/OPEN IT WITH EXCEL, BUT IT’S VERY USEFUL WHILE READING THIS. It is a comparison chart of all the fantasy baseball leagues available:
If you want to play high-stakes fantasy baseball, or even if you want to play lower-stakes fantasy baseball, the only legitimate games in town are CDM Sports Draft & Play (D&P) and National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC). Fortunately, that should be enough. Between the 2 fantasy games, you’ve got plenty of options for 10, 12, and 15 team leagues ranging from $10 entries to $10,000 entries. There are games with great league prizes ($75,000 for example), and other games with lesser league prizes but that have big overall prizes ($100,000 for example). If you’re looking to make a name for yourself and play against the best fantasy baseball players in the country, then the NFBC is the way to go. It has the highest-stakes of any fantasy baseball game and is run by the best in the business – Tom Kessenich and Greg Ambrosius. They have online satellite leagues and live events. Their live events (the highlighted games on the chart at the bottom of the page) are the most enjoyable fantasy gaming experience you can imagine. Your event fee gets you a “goodie bag” with magazines, markers, and other baseball trinkets, a nice buffet, and beer (helps those last-second decisions when the clock is winding down). You sit at a table with 14 other owners around you and a big draft board in the middle keeping track of everyone’s picks as you draft. You’re allowed to have a friend help you as a co-manager by paying an additional co-manager fee as well. The NFBC has been featured in the New York Times, and was named fantasy sports industry’s “Best Live Event” by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. I have been playing since 2007 when I was 23 years-old, and draft weekend is my favorite time of the year.
Now, if you just want the best chance to win money, then Draft & Play is probably the way to go. You can play Rotisserie or Points style games, AL-only, NL-only, or Both AL and NL player pools. Their 10-team leagues give you a 6x return on your money if you win the league and they make it so that if you get 2nd place you get your money back – and if you don’t plan on getting in the top 2 out of 10, then you probably shouldn’t be playing anyways. But that’s what our site is here for – to help you do just that! Then, their top 2 levels (Platinum and Double Platinum) allow you to make $500 profit by getting 2nd place. The D&P Double Platinum game ($1,000 entry fee) offers prizes to the top 3 fantasy owners in the league (out of only 10 teams). First place wins $6,000, 2nd place gets $1,500, and 3rd place gets you your money back ($1,000) – so you have a 1/5 chance to win money, and 3/10 chance to at least get your money back.
As a comparison, NFBC’s 12-team $1,000 satellite league offers a 1st place prize of $6,400, 2nd place gets $2,400, and 3rd place gets $800. So now you have a 1/6 chance to win money because even 3rd place loses you money and you’re competing against 2 more teams – which are also tougher competition as NFBC leagues are significantly harder to win than D&P leagues (unless you’re in my D&P league). D&P leagues are drafted online and teams are given random draft slots. In comparison, the NFBC employs KDS (Kentucky Derby System). Using KDS, each owner submits a list of his preferred draft slots in order of preference such as: 13,14,15,1,6,7,8,9,10,2,3,12,11,4,12. Then, Greg and Tom randomly draw names to see who gets their 1st preference, then the next name is drawn, and so on and so forth… in this way, it’s very rare that a team gets his last choice. Often the last guy chosen will still get a pick that he doesn’t hate, which makes it a bit more fair, and requires even more strategizing about what draft slot best suits you. You should also be aware that there is no trading in any of these D&P or NFBC leagues (trading isn’t and shouldn’t be allowed in any sort of high-stakes games as it detracts from the draft and free agent bidding process and could allow for collusion which is unacceptable in the high-stakes fantasy industry). Speaking of the free agent bidding process, for all NFBC leagues and for the Platinum and Double Platinum D&P leagues, you acquire free agents using your FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) of $1,000 (“fake money” for the entire year) in a blind-bidding process where the highest bidder gets the player each week at whatever price he bid. If you are unfamiliar with this process, please visit my Draft Strategy page for more information on how to use it effectively. For the lower D&P leagues, waiver wire additions are awarded based on standings (last place gets first choice, first place gets last choice, etc).
The 3 big overall games are NFBC’s 2 main events: the 15-team Main Event, the 12-team Main Event (XII), and the Online Championship. The 15-team Main Event is comprised of 26 leagues (390 teams overall) drafting from cities all over the US (New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, St. Louis, and New Jersey) all gunning for the $100,000 grand prize for the team that gets 1st place overall out of 390. The 12-team Main Event is new in 2012, and is the same thing but with fewer overall teams (300), a smaller grand prize ($50,000), a smaller entry fee ($1,000), smaller league prize ($4,000), and less teams per league obviously. Then, there’s the Online Championship – where 600 teams compete in 12-team leagues for the $50,000 grand prize. This league is drafted online – no need to go somewhere to draft the team live.
If you’re looking for REALLY big stakes, then the Super, Ultimate, and Diamond NFBC leagues are for you. These are just leagues with really big league prizes and no overall prize. It’s your best chance to win a lot of money, but also a large monetary risk as well. The entry fees for these games range from $2,500-$10,000 as the prizes for 1st place range from $20,000-$75,000.
If you don’t want to risk too much money, and you’re really confident you can just win your league outright and not worry about getting 2nd or 3rd, then the Winner-Take-All (WTA) leagues might be for you. There are both 12 and 15-team leagues that you can enter that are much more affordable ($125-$150) where the team that gets 1st place wins $1,400 – about 10x the return! However, getting 2nd is monetarily the same as getting 12th in these leagues. It’s boom or bust.
If you like drafting but get nervous or anxious with a running clock, the Slow Draft option might be for you. There are $150 and $375 Slow Draft 15-team league options that have both league and overall prizes. The 50-round draft is conducted online and each team has 8 hours to make each pick (thus drafts start earlier in the offseason as drafts can last a month or so). There are no in-season moves in these drafts – no free agent pickups. The 50 players you draft are all you have to maneuver in and out of your lineups each week, so make sure you have back-ups for your back-ups. You can draft minor league players and bench players and hope they find playing time somewhere along the way.
Finally, if you like Auctions, then NFBC has those too. I have never done an auction, and this site is geared towards 5×5 rotisserie fantasy baseball, but if you’re interested, click HERE.