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They Got Next: 5 Buffalo Bills About to Go 'Next-Level'

The Buffalo Bills have Super Bowl hopes, and will need a "next-man-up" mentality to to get there.

As it turns out, all Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes needed was 13 seconds.

In what became a K.C. 42-36 divisional round playoff win, the Buffalo Bills were 13 seconds away from going to the AFC championship when Mahomes drove down the field to position his team for a game-tying field goal, before winning it the next drive in overtime. 

The rest was history, and one that Bills faithful would likely prefer to forget.

But now it's re-load time. And if Buffalo wants to bring home a Super Bowl ring, it won't just come down to Josh Allen, Von Miller, Stefon Diggs and the star players. The Bills will need a well-rounded effort to win it all, and they have the depth to do it.

Here are the five players we expect to provide sleeper value this season for Buffalo:

5) Tim Settle, defensive tackle

Settle didn't start a single game last season for Washington and played just 20 percent of snaps. Lost among a deep defensive line rotation, Settle didn't get to fully display his skillset in Washington. With Star Lotulelei and Harrison Phillips now gone, that clears out a defined role for Settle inside.

Additionally, Settle played well in his limited action with Washington, posting a respectable 70.1 Pro Football Focus grade, a career-high. Expect Settle to step in and provide a mammoth in the middle with plus athleticism to offer early on.

4) OJ Howard, tight end

Howard has been on a streak of lackluster seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but perhaps at no fault of his own. When tight end Rob Gronkowski un-retired and was traded to Tampa Bay in April of 2020, it was clear he would be one of Tom Brady's favorite targets quickly. 

In 2020, Howard only played four games due to an Achilles tear. Once back, his role had diminished greatly. Bills quarterback Josh Allen loves using his tight ends and targeted Dawson Knox 71 times last season. Buffalo provides a great opportunity for Howard to revitalize his career.

3) Jamison Crowder, wide receiver

Slot receiver Cole Beasley leaving was perhaps the biggest free agency loss for Buffalo this offseason. It vacated an enormous 112 targets from the offense. With Jamison Crowder now added to the mix and expected to be the starting slot receiver, that's a huge role already set up for him.

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Additionally, Crowder has had inconsistent quarterback play throughout much of his career in Washington and with the Jets. Now, he has an MVP-caliber signal caller throwing to him, and a respectable 66.9 percent career catch rate. He also has posted more yards per reception over his career than Beasley.

Look for Crowder to be an instant impact starter in the Bills offense.

2) Gabriel Davis, wide receiver

Another receiver enjoying vacated targets will be Gabriel Davis. Wideout Emmanuel Sanders was the No. 2 guy across from Diggs last season, and accounted for 72 targets. Davis himself still managed 63 targets last season, and that's bound to increase now.

Davis burst onto the scene late last season, and just got better as the season went on. In fact, he had a monstrous 201 receiving yards in the divisional round loss versus Kansas City.

Former teammate Sanders had this to say about Davis: "I've been around a lot of good receivers. He's a Pro Bowl-caliber player. This guy, the way he attacks the football, you give him the opportunity to start? ... I feel like he's going to have a breakout year."

1) Greg Rousseau, defensive end

Any time a team signs a superstar edge rusher, it makes the jobs of all other pass rushers easier on the team. Nobody is better prepared to accept that benefit than Rousseau, who was near the top of the league defending the run last year.

Rousseau was also tied with Odafe Oweh for third in pressures among all rookies last season (nine pressures). 

Future Hall of Fame edge rusher Von Miller has been a huge asset to Rousseau as well as a mentor.

"He's really helping us out already, his first day out with us with us in OTAs, and I already learned some good nuggets from him," Rousseau said.

Newly added Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips already has great things to say about Rousseau.

"I've watched his tape, and from what I see from his tape, I like. He's big, he's fast, he's still young. And once he figure figures out who he is, he's going to be up there with Von," said Phillips. 

High praise to be compared already to the likes of Miller. In his second season, Rousseau has a serious chance to catapult onto the scene - one of a handful of Bills who seem poised for that leap.