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Ranking the three most 'indispensable' Bills in 2017

Shout out to Jim Eimer.

As part of this week's Bills Mailbag, I took to Twitter looking for questions. Jim came through with one that got me thinking when he asked "what three players on the Bills are most indispensable -- meaning if they were to get hurt, it would effect win/loss total the most?"

Two of my answers were easy, while I labored over the third. Here's my list:

1. Tyrod Taylor. The starting quarterback is always going to be No. 1. Rookie Nathan Peterman's rise to No. 2 on the depth chart over the summer captured the imagination of Bills fans starved for a franchise quarterback, but the reality is we have yet to see him take a snap in a game that matters. If Taylor were to get hurt, there's no guarantee Peterman would be an upgrade, or even play at the same level. Taylor might be polarizing, but he's been a competent starter for three years now.

2. LeSean McCoy. I shudder to think of what the Bills' offense would look like without McCoy. He remains one of the best running backs in the NFL at 29 and is the No. 1 player -- maybe the only player -- that keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night. McCoy's value is enhanced by the lack of a true No. 2 running back behind him. After Mike Gillislee bolted and the team cut Jonathan Williams, the backup job was to take a "committee" approach. That changed in Week One when Mike Tolbert took all the carries behind McCoy. Tolbert, though, is not thought to be an every-down option if something were to happen to McCoy.

3. Preston Brown. The middle linebacker's play in the summer made both Reggie Ragland (traded) and Gerald Hodges (cut) replacable. By getting rid of both players, though, the Bills left themselves with a big hole behind Brown. Veteran Lorenzo Alexander, a starting outside linebacker, would move to Brown's spot in the middle, but that wouldn't be ideal. Alexander's best strength is rushing the passer, and playing every down -- as Brown did in Week One -- might be a lot to ask of a 34-year-old. Brown might not be the best player on Buffalo's defense, but he might be the toughest to replace, which is why he makes this list.

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