'Double-up' leagues, also referred to as 50/50 leagues, are a type of fantasy football league in which entrants that finish in the top half of the standings win money. Contrary to traditional fantasy football leagues, in which only the top three finishers receive payouts in decreasing increments, double-up leagues pay each player in the top half of the standings double their entry fee.
Double-up leagues are a form of 'daily' fantasy sports, meaning the results are not spread out over the course of the season and the contest instead ends at the end of the week. Rather than draft players and manage lineups all season long, daily fantasy football players simply assemble a roster of players for a given week, with the team's cumulative score dictating where they ultimately place in the standings.
Whereas standard, season-long fantasy football leagues tend to have anywhere from 12-16 teams, double-up leagues and other daily fantasy football contests have hundreds of entrants. It is for this reason that double-up leagues pay all managers that finish in the top half of the standings, as it much more difficult to land in the top 50% of a league with 200+ participants as opposed to a league with 12-16 players.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of double-up leagues is that each winner gets paid the same amount. Most season-long fantasy football leagues use a weighted earnings system to dictate payouts, with the first-place finisher receiving 70% of all the entry fees and the second and third-place finishers receiving 20% and 10%, respectively. Conversely, double-up leagues pay winners double the amount they paid to enter the league. For example, if there are 150 participants in a double-up leagues and each player pays 20 dollars to enter, the top 75 players each win 40 dollars.
The best part about double-up leagues is that it maximizes each player's chance to win a decent sum of money, while also preventing managers from having to keep track of a team for 16+ weeks. Within a week, players have the opportunity to double their money without any further commitment. Many people prefer this style of fantasy football, as it relies heavily on analyzing real-life matchups for a given week rather than hoping for consistent player performances throughout the entirety of the season.
Despite the increased number of players eligible to win, double-up leagues can be incredibly challenging. Firstly, since the league lasts only a week, there is hardly any room for error. Unlike in standard season-long leagues, there is no chance to recover from a poor collective performance from the team. Secondly, there is simply more competition. In a 12 team league, a poor performance can be negated by several other teams having a bad week. This is not the case in double-up leagues, as hundreds of participants all but guarantees there will be plenty of teams posting large numbers of fantasy points.