The Cincinnati Bengals made a name for themselves as one of the worst franchises in professional sports throughout the 1990s with extreme futility. However, that isn't to say the team didn't actually have a logical Draft strategy which netted quality players.
And while today's Bengals roster is vastly improved from "The Lost Decade", there are still a number of players from that 90s and early 2000s who could come in and contribute now to create the ultimate fantasy roster. Combining need with the talent of past players, here are some of the names we came up with for the final part of this mini-series.
Which Bengals from the 1960s and 1970s would you want on the 2016 roster?
We dig back into the archives and look for past Bengals players who would be solid additions to the 2016 Bengals, in their prime. We first look back to the 1960s and1970s when the team was first formed for some quality fantasy additions.
James Francis, Outside Linebacker, 1990-1998: Though the team is pretty stacked at linebacker, they are still facing a couple of issues. Weakside linebacker Vontaze Burfict is going to serve a three-game suspension to start the season and the team doesn't have an edge rush threat from the position group. Francis was good at getting to the quarterback as an outside linebacker, netting 33 sacks in his nine seasons with the club.
David Fulcher, Strong Safety, 1986-1992: Technically, Fulcher could have made our list for the 1980s, but with a lesser amount of talent in 1990s and still having three quality seasons with the club later in his career, we decided to place him here. After making two Pro Bowls in the 1980s, Fulcher made another in 1990 and had 11 interceptions in his final three years with the Bengals. He'd be a great addition to today's team with Reggie Nelson's departure, who, like Fulcher, went to the Raiders after a long stint with Cincinnati.
Carl Pickens, Wide Receiver, 1992-1999: Pickens was an immense talent and with Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones leaving in free agency, just imagine a player like Pickens across from A.J. Green. Green might end up surpassing many of Pickens' high career receiving numbers with the club, but Andy Dalton would undoubtedly have a career year with those two wideouts.
Darnay Scott, Wide Receiver, 1994-2002: While we're looking at replacements for the two former Bengals' wideouts who left in free agency this offseason, let's have Pickens and Scott work together again. Like Green, Pickens was the do-it-all guy, while Scott stretched the field, as Jones often did. Green, Pickens and Scott would be a ridiculous trio of wideouts.
Darryl Williams, Free Safety, 1992-1995, 2000-2001: While Williams more lived up to his first round billing with the Seahawks, he was still a valuable member of Cincinnati's defense. He had 11 interceptions in his tenure and missed just one game in his six Bengals seasons. With Shawn Williams stepping into a big-time role for the first time in his career, Williams could provide valuable athleticism and experience to the group.
Corey Sawyer, Cornerback/Kick Returner, 1994-1998: The speedy Sawyer contributed in multiple facets for the Bengals. He garnered 11 interceptions and two fumble recoveries in five seasons on defense, while also providing some excitement on returns. With the Bengals potentially needing a kick returner, having one who can also make plays in the secondary provides value.
Tony McGee, Tight End, 1993-2001: The Bengals found a player at the position who could do it all in McGee, who stuck with the team for nine seasons. He didn't put up gaudy statistics because of a quarterback carousel and the talent of Scott and Pickens, but he racked up 20 touchdowns and 3,795 yards in his Bengals career. With Tyler Eifert's recovery potentially lasting into the regular season, McGee would be a nice addition to a current group littered with inexperience.
Tremain Mack, Kick Returner, 1997-2000: Though he didn't pan out as a safety like he was in college, Mack was a Pro Bowl kick returner who racked up 3,583 yards on kickoffs in three full seasons on that job. He'd be a solid replacement for those who want to see Brandon Tate look for work elsewhere.
Artrell Hawkins, Cornerback, 1998-2003: Though his numbers weren't eye-popping, Hawkins made plays on a defense that needed talent in the pre-Marvin Lewis days. He had 11 interceptions in six years, including an exciting 102-yard touchdown return in 2002 against the Texans. While he'd struggle to get past some of the four first round corners currently on the roster, Hawkins' scrappy nature would be a valuable asset to the secondary.
Brian Simmons, Linebacker, 1998-2006: Versatility and leadership are coveted traits out of the linebackers Lewis has coached in the NFL and Simmons had both. While Takeo Spikes bailed right after his rookie deal expired, Simmons was a critical bridge into the Lewis era. Like Francis, he'd be a good player to have in a group that has a lot of talent, but also a couple of issues.
Takeo Spikes, Linebacker, 1998-2002: Though his tenure was short-term, Spikes was a force who was under-appreciated both during and after his tenure with the Bengals. Imagine Spikes in his prime playing with two other fierce thumpers in Burfict and Rey Maualuga.
Corey Dillon, Running Back, 1997-2003: Like the few other stars the Bengals had in their poor years, Dillon just didn't get the recognition he fully deserved. Even so, he made three Pro Bowls and had six 1,000-yard rushing seasons in seven with the club.
Willie Anderson, Offensive Tackle, 1996-2007: Like Anthony Munoz on our 1980s list, Anderson is a no-brainer. It's tough because the Bengals have another all-time great tackle in Andrew Whitworth currently on the roster, along with two top picks from the 2015 NFL Draft looking for bigger roles this year. Still, "Big Willie" was one of the best selections the team has ever made and would be a great addition to help Jeremy Hill get back on track.
Peter Warrick, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner, 2000-2004: Expectations were high for Warrick when he joined the club after being such an electric talent at Florida State. Aside from experiencing quarterback issues with the Bengals, Warrick was the unfortunate by-product of the league not properly utilizing slot talents as Warrick was more suited for. Still, he was a catalyst for the team's turnaround 2003 campaign and had 22 total touchdowns in five years with Cincinnati (18 receiving, two rushing, two punt returns).