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The five most useful players on the 2014 Buffalo Bills

Often, good pro football teams have several players that contribute not just on special teams, but on their respective offensive or defensive unit, as well. The Buffalo Bills have several players fitting that description in 2014.

Tom Szczerbowski

Earlier this morning, we talked about the least-useful players on the 2014 Buffalo Bills - meaning the five players that, for a variety of reasons, the team has the most trouble finding uses for on game days. These players have been, or are becoming, the most infrequently-dressed Bills players on game days this season.

Let's flip the script this afternoon and talk about the most useful players on the Bills' 53-man roster. Note that "most useful" is not, in this case, synonymous with "best," because that isn't the point; this is meant to suss out the most valuable game-day adds to the roster from a utility infielder's perspective. All of these players wear several different hats, and do it well.

RB Anthony Dixon: Up until the point that Dixon was thrust into the lead tailback role following injuries to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, Dixon was leading the Bills in special teams reps played (and is still second after two weeks with a large rushing workload, trailing only Ron Brooks for the season). He also made arguably the biggest special teams play of the season, blocking a punt in a Week 2 win over Miami. With Spiller sidelined for at least six more games (but probably the rest of the season), Dixon's role will continue to be significant on both offense and special teams.

WR Chris Hogan: The third-year Bill has consistently ranked in the top five players in terms of special teams reps through the first half of the season, and his workload there has gone largely unchanged despite seeing a dramatic increase in playing time over the last three weeks. He is also proving to be a quality contributor as the third receiver, catching 11-of-13 targets for 149 yards and a touchdown in his last three games.

LB Preston Brown: Buffalo desperately needed a three-down linebacker following the season-ending injury to Kiko Alonso, and the third-round pick out of Louisville was the player asked to fill that role. He has done so more and more capably as his inaugural pro season has progressed, and by far and away leads Bills linebackers in snaps played, coming in at a clean 90 percent. Despite that, he also ranks seventh on the team in special teams snaps played, averaging 13.6 coverage snaps per game, as well.

CB Corey Graham: Probably the most useful player on this short list, the veteran free agent acquisition has played more than 60 percent of defensive snaps, splitting his time between both corner and safety to account for personnel shortcomings at various times. In addition, the former Pro Bowl special teams ace has upped his contribution in coverage in the absence of Marcus Easley and Ty Powell; his 88 special teams snaps in the last five weeks rank third on the team in that time frame, behind only Larry Dean and Brooks.

Duke Williams: The second-year safety established himself as one of the Bills' most frequently-used players on special teams as a rookie, finishing third on the team with 289 special teams snaps played last season. This year, he's on pace to play 284, despite seeing his role on the defense increase exponentially; he played just 34 snaps at safety in his rookie season, but is already up to 316 as a sophomore, playing 55.6 percent of snaps for Jim Schwartz. He'll continue to be a featured coverage player for Danny Crossman while splitting reps at safety with Da'Norris Searcy.