There aren't many running back injuries we're watching Sunday, with James Conner and David Montgomery both cleared to return from their multi-week absences and ranked as solid RB2s for this week. Kenneth Walker (chest) also has no injury designation after missing practice earlier in the week, so he's in that same range -- I'd start both Montgomery and Conner, as well as Jahmyr Gibbs, ahead of Walker, whose role has been limited of late, but he's a fine starter in his own right.

Dameon Pierce (hamstring) remains out, which should push Devin Singletary back into a lead role, however he had just 4.6 PPR points while playing 75% of the snaps last week, and is just a touchdown-or-bust RB3 at this point on a Texans team that just hasn't gotten anything out of their running backs all season. 

Keaton Mitchell (hamstring) sounds like he's going to play after getting a full practice session in Friday, and the Ravens acknowledged earlier in the week that he's probably earned more opportunities after his Week 9 breakout. I'm not starting Mitchell if I can help it, but he's a high-upside bench stash who very well could force his way into a Fantasy-relevant role with how explosive he looked last week. 

Before we get to the rankings for Week 10, let's take a look at what we're expecting from Conner and Montgomery as they make their expected returns:

What to expect from James Conner's return

Last week, Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon sounded pretty optimistic about Conner's chances of coming off IR when he was first eligible, saying, "He's getting ready to go and he's excited to get back when he can get back and play." Gannon even joked that Conner "is getting faster" in his rehab from the injury, and it honestly sounded like Conner might have even been able to return last week if he hadn't been on IR. 

But the timing might be ideal for Conner's return this week, assuming it comes, because it coincides with Kyler Murray's expected return from the PUP list. Conner will have to be designated to return from IR before he can practice, but assuming that happens this week, Conner could be back with his starting QB, which should lift the entire Cardinals offense – even if my expectations for Murray in his first game back aren't incredibly high

But expectations for Conner? Pretty high, honestly. He's a fringe RB1 in my first run-through rankings, and honestly, that might be pretty low. Assuming he's 100% recovered from the knee injury, Conner returns arguably having looked better than he ever had as a runner, averaging 5.4 yards per carry in an offense that was not necessarily doing him a ton of favors; the team's other running backs have combined for 3.3 yards per carry. Conner had six broken tackles on 68 carries, after just five on 183 carries last season, and the Cardinals were actually blocking pretty well for him, creating 4.0 yards per carry before contact.

The one thing Conner wasn't doing was catching a lot of passes (he had 10 targets in five games), but he's averaged 2.9 targets per game in his career with Murray active, so I do think that should improve slightly. 

I'm not expecting Conner to keep averaging 5.0-plus yards per carry, but I do expect him to be pretty efficient on a strong workload. There is some downside risk here, where the Cardinals activate Conner but don't lean on him quite as heavily as they have in the past in his first game back, which is why he's more of an RB2. But I'd have to have multiple really good options to not start him. 

What to expect from David Montgomery's return

In fact, I think I would start Conner ahead of both Lions running backs if Montgomery makes his expected return. I'm not 100% certain on that, but that's where I'm leaning right now, though both Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs are top-20 running backs in their own right.

The thing is, I just don't quite know what to expect from the workload here. I think Montgomery will return to being the lead back, but I'd be pretty surprised if he was averaging 23 carries per game like he did in the first three games they played together. Montgomery has been a strong runner this season, but Gibbs just put together a superstar kind of showing in Week 8 against the Raiders, rushing for 152 yards on 26 carries. I don't know if they can put the toothpaste back in the tube here.

Montgomery should be the lead back, though, and he'll likely continue to be prioritized near the goal line. But it might be more like the Jamaal Williams/D'Andre Swift split from last season, where Williams averaged 15.2 carries when Swift was active. That should still keep Montgomery in the "should-start" range, while Gibbs should be in line for a dozen carries or so and a healthy passing game role, putting him right in that same range. I've got them ranked back to back, just behind Conner in my initial rankings for Week 10. 

Here are my full rankings for Week 10 at running back for PPR leagues:

Week 10 Running Back Rankings

  1. Christian McCaffrey @JAX
  2. Austin Ekeler vs. DET
  3. Alvin Kamara @MIN
  4. Travis Etienne vs. SF
  5. Jonathan Taylor @NE
  6. Breece Hall @LV
  7. Tony Pollard vs. NYG
  8. Josh Jacobs vs. NYJ
  9. Joe Mixon vs. HOU
  10. Saquon Barkley @DAL
  11. Derrick Henry @TB
  12. Rachaad White vs. TEN
  13. Bijan Robinson @ARI
  14. James Conner vs. ATL
  15. Jahmyr Gibbs @LAC
  16. David Montgomery @LAC
  17. Rhamondre Stevenson vs. IND
  18. Aaron Jones @PIT
  19. Javonte Williams @BUF
  20. James Cook vs. DEN
  21. Kenneth Walker vs. WAS
  22. Alexander Mattison vs. NO
  23. Gus Edwards vs. CLE
  24. Najee Harris vs. GB
  25. Devin Singletary @CIN
  26. Jerome Ford @BAL
  27. Jaylen Warren vs. GB
  28. Tyler Allgeier @ARI
  29. Brian Robinson Jr. @SEA
  30. Tyjae Spears @TB
  31. Zack Moss @NE
  32. Kareem Hunt @BAL
  33. Zach Charbonnet vs. WAS
  34. AJ Dillon @PIT
  35. Ezekiel Elliott vs. IND
  36. Antonio Gibson @SEA
  37. Justice Hill vs. CLE
  38. Keaton Mitchell vs. CLE
  39. Mike Boone @CIN
  40. Joshua Kelley vs. DET
  41. Chase Edmonds vs. TEN
  42. Keaontay Ingram vs. ATL
  43. Ty Chandler vs. NO
  44. Trayveon Williams vs. HOU
  45. Tank Bigsby vs. SF
  46. Dalvin Cook @LV
  47. Rico Dowdle vs. NYG
  48. Latavius Murray vs. DEN
  49. Jaleel McLaughlin @BUF
  50. Samaje Perine @BUF