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Is This Chiefs Fan-Favorite Set For Big Things In 2022?

This Chiefs fan-favorite grabbed headlines in last season’s Training Camp. He eventually suffered an injury in the season, but is back this year and once again making tons of noise. What will 2022 hold for him?

Jody Fortson has been a Chiefs Kingdom favorite since the 2021 training camp. An injury slowed him down that season, but 2022 could have a happier ending. Fortson is a fourth-year tight end who the Chiefs signed after the 2019 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent. He spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons on the team’s practice squad before cracking the 53-man roster after the 2021 preseason.

That preseason Fortson got on the fan’s radar after a great training camp. He followed that up with solid statistics in three preseason games, catching six balls on nine targets for 60 yards. Fortson did not find the endzone but did enough to earn his spot on the roster and a place in the hearts of fans.

Fortson was a wide receiver by trade at Valdosta State. At six-foot-four and 220 pounds, he was a beast at the Division II collegiate level. Unfortunately, injuries and poor academics kept him off the field too often for him to get in a real grove. In college he played in just 14 games, catching 30 balls for 380 yards and five touchdowns. The numbers are eye-popping by any measure, but a touchdown on one out of six catches is a stat that raises my eyebrow.

Once in the NFL, Fortson put on 20 pounds of muscle getting up to just over 240 pounds to better handle the position change to tight end. It took him a couple of years to get the handle on the position, but he was ready to contribute in 2021.

What Is The Ceiling For Fortson For The Chiefs This Season?

When Travis Kelce is your starting tight end, the backup tight end is not going to be a highly productive position. As long as Kelce is on the team, Fortson is not going to be a 60-catch, 700-yard player. It just isn’t possible. But when Patrick Mahomes says things like “When he’s one on one and he has a guy behind him, you can give him that chance. I have that trust with him now.”. If Mahomes trusts you then you know you will be involved with the offense.

Patrick Mahomes on Jody Fortson: “I think you've seen what Jody is. When he's one on one and he has a guy behind him, you can give him that chance. I have that trust with him now. When you have a big guy who can make those physical, tough catches, you give him a chance." — Chiefs Edge (@ChiefsEdge) August 21, 2022

I see Fortson as the dependable short-yardage guy that fans have been clamoring after for years. He’s a big body that can run the short to intermediate routes over the middle or on the edge. He can sit down and box out a guy and be a safety valve for Mahomes. He showed this with his second touchdown catch against the Washington Commanders last week. He isn’t a break-away guy like Kelce, but he’s the perfect possession receiver.

He’s athletic enough to make moves on linebackers, while definitely big enough to box out any defensive back who is on him. He should see nothing but single coverage as well. Teams will always give more attention to Kelce and the wideouts than the backup tight end running the seven-yard route. But those are the plays that Mahomes needs someone to make. He needs to know on third down and six to go, when the defense has the weapons covered, that he has a guy he can rely on to make a play.

Mahomes himself has said he has that kind of trust in Fortson. I see him having 25 to 35 catches this season for around 200 yards. Those are not stats that will have anyone looking at a box score excited. But of those 25 to 35 catches I’d bet the majority are for first downs or touchdowns. It would not surprise me to see him end the season with 15 to 20 catches that move the chains and another five to seven find the endzone. You need the stars, but you need guys like Fortson who you can trust to get the job done when you need them.

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