Three and out: Gore’s injured leg not an issue

Gore ready to roll vs. Giants: There isn’t a truly elite fantasy running back left in the postseason outside of Ray Rice, but the closest one is Frank Gore. Fortunately, it looks like the Niners will have their workhorse in the NFC Championship Game. The San Jose Mercury News reports that while he appeared to re-injure his right leg on the team’s final drive against the Saints, Gore “feels good” and will “do whatever it takes to get to the Super Bowl.” If you’re in the NFL Playoff Challenge, he’ll be a popular option. It’s hard to trust a Patriots running back, and the duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have the daunting task of facing the Niners — no team allowed fewer fantasy points to runners in 2011. While it’s true that Gore hasn’t rushed for 100 yards since Week 9, he has found the end zone in three of his last five games.

Browns targeting Robert Griffin III?: In his first mock for the 2012 NFL Draft, senior writer Steve Wyche reports that “league sources” are saying that the Browns want Griffin. While the team might have to move up to No. 2 to land him, the Browns have the most ammo to deal, with both the No. 4 and No. 22 overall selections in Round 1. I’m also projecting Griffin, who will have fantasy owners dreaming of the second coming of Cam Newton, to land in Cleveland with one of the first four picks. In that scenario, the Baylor product will be worth a middle- to late-round pick in seasonal fantasy drafts and a top-three selection in dynasty formats.

Peyton Manning’s still a question: There are all kinds of reports floating out there about Manning. He’ll be traded, he won’t be traded, he’ll be released if his neck remains an issue, etc. The reality is that we probably won’t know his status for 2012 anytime soon, but most experts still expect the Colts to take Stanford’s Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft. If that scenario comes to fruition, it will have definite fantasy implications. If Manning and Luck are both on the roster and the former is 100 percent, the rookie wouldn’t have much value in seasonal leagues. Let’s face it, if Manning is healthy and a member of the Colts, he’s their starting quarterback. On the flip side, which would have Manning traded, released or unable to return to the field, Luck would become an instant fantasy sleeper as the top signal-caller in Indianapolis. Clearly, this will be the biggest story of the NFL offseason.

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