It's unclear if Reggie Bush will play as he continues to battle a knee injury, and Bell should see significant playing time either way. The Lions don't want to risk Bush's health by playing him too much. Bell will be the guy to step in and carry some of the workload.
Michael Fabiano of NFL.com believes Bell could be a big factor this week due to Bush's situation.
Detroit Free Press reporting Reggie Bush still hasn't been cleared to play this week. Joique Bell could be a HUGE sleeper.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 19, 2013
Although his early numbers aren't spectacular, Bell will be worth the risk this week. He has only 56 rushing yards and 108 receiving yards through two weeks.
The third-year back has been used to run the football and catch passes out of the backfield. Detroit has relied on its running backs to make plays in the passing game, but the Lions will be able to run the ball whenever it wants this week.
Detroit will head to the nation's capital to take on the Washington Redskins. Through the first two weeks of the season, Washington ranks last in the NFL in run defense. It has allowed nearly 30 more rushing yards per game than the team directly ahead of it.
The Redskins have allowed opponents to run for 5.5 yards per attempt. They are also tied for the most rushing touchdowns (three) allowed through two weeks.
Washington has struggled to stop running backs this season. Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy had nearly 190 total yards and a touchdown in the opener, and James Starks totaled more than 160 yards and a score last week.
It was the first time in 44 regular-season games that the Packers had a running back top the 100-yard mark.
The opponent makes Bell a must-start in Week 3, and his team's game plan supports his case.
Detroit hasn't used running backs conventionally this season. Bush has only 115 rushing yards this season, but he, like Bell, has been utilized in the passing game. His 145 receiving yards rank second on the team to only Calvin Johnson, who has 153 yards.
Is Joique Bell worth a start in fantasy leagues in Week 3?
Why does it matter what Bush has done? It shows that the Lions are committed to keeping teams guessing by using running backs out of the backfield.
Bell is currently tied with Nate Burleson for the second-most targets on the team. Two of the Lions' top four leaders in receiving yards are running backs.
The 27-year-old will continue to receive more touches as Bush recovers from injury. Matthew Stafford needs someone to help Calvin Johnson, and Bell will be that guy.
Bell will get his yards, on the ground and out of the backfield, against Washington. He has also been used as a short-yardage back near the end zone. He has two touchdowns from inside the 2-yard line this season, so look for the Lions to feed him the ball near the goal line.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com