For fantasy football owners of Reggie Bush, the fact that he will get injured at some point of the season is not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Much like Darren McFadden, Bush is an extremely talented player who always seems to have a great fantasy outing, then miss a game or two with some injury. I’ve often used this space to stress the importance of having your handcuffs ready to roll, however Detroit Lions’ running back Joique Bell is not just a handcuff, he does offer some stand alone value and is worth roster spot in keeper leagues across the board.
While Bell’s points total in 2013 won’t blow anyone away (he had 106.1 points in standard scoring leagues, 20th amongst running backs), I find that a top 20 finish among running backs for a player who served as a backup for the majority of the season is very respectable. Bell finished with more points than many full time starters, including Zac Stacy, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice. Bell’s average of 10.01 standard points per game was good enough to finish 24th among running backs last season.
When looking at the games that Bell actually started and received a starter’s workload, he feasted. Bell started four games for Detroit this season, averaging 17.85 fantasy points per game over those four starts. Every one of those four starts saw Bell score at least 14.7 fantasy points per game. In the games that Bush started, Bell still provided value (but was more of a flex player to a high end RB2) averaging 7.4 fantasy points per game, including outings of 21.2, 11.4, and 18.8 points.
Bell has all the tools that Bush does, making him not only a perfect handcuff, but a viable threat to earn touches and targets should Bush ever falter. Bell can be effective pass catcher, he has the moves to make defenders miss in space and he is a powerful runner capable of dragging a pile with him. While nobody knows exactly how the new coaching staff will use their players, a smart coach should consider splitting snaps or drives in an effort to keep Bush ready for the stretch run. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bush/Bell relationship somewhat mirror the C.J. Spiller/Fred Jackson relationship of the last few years.
When Bush does eventually get injured in 2014, Bell’s value will go through the roof. Despite being a backup, Bell was still owned in 71 percent of Yahoo! leagues this year. He managed to post top 20 numbers while playing limited snaps. If you are a Bush owner, you absolutely must own Bell. If you don’t own Bush, then Bell is still worth a roster spot as a flex with the potential to score high end RB2 numbers. When Bush misses time, Bell is easily an RB1. If you own Bell, keep him on your roster. I can guarantee you that if you don’t, another owner will scoop him up quickly.
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