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Dancing With the Stars Cast Preview, Rankings, and Predictions

We showed you how to set up a Fantasy DWTS League. You’ve found two or three others and started a league over at Fantasizr. Now, take home your league’s Mirrorball by following @Simply_Shamus‘ advice to sift through what projects as one of the most competitive casts in DWTS history.  Drawing from his experience as a ballroom dance instructor, Shamus gives his professional, in-depth breakdowns of each contestant by highlighting each contestant’s secret weapon before making a Bottom Line prediction. Without further adieu, find out which members of the Dancing With the Stars cast are for real, and who to avoid, come draft day:

Dancing With the Stars Cast Preview & Rankings

Tier One – Potential Winners 

Simone Biles –  Olympic Gymnast

Professional Partner Sasha Farber (never has made a final)

Outlook – If you don’t know who this young lady is you’ve been living under a rock all summer – she’s the reigning Olympic champion in pretty much everything. Why not add the Mirror Ball Trophy to top off an already flippin good year! Expect points as high as she’s able to jump – REAL high! Only thing in her way is, well, I’m not sure there’s anything. She’s the shortest celebrity but I wouldn’t be surprised if you find her on top come the end of the season.

Secret Weapon – Look for the tumbling run that’s named after her — a double layout with a half twist. And of course, that sassy ending pose that’ll surely make her an easy crowd favorite!

@Simply_Shamus says… Simone is going to crush it in the trick department. She has no physical limitations which makes her versatile for all dances. And she’s well liked by the entire world – besides Russian Gymnastics – so she’ll get votes. The only factor I see holding her back is a connection to Sasha. Dances such as Rumba, Bolero, Waltz require a bit of vulnerability and given her young age I believe this to be her biggest challenge. Expect high scores in dances such as Jive, Swing, ChaCha where she’ll surely soar above the rest of the pack.

Bottom Line – With her gymnastics skills and immense likeability, expect a top-notch finish for Simone. She belongs at the top of every draft, and is the favorite to win the whole thing.

Rashad Jennings –  NFL Player

Professional PartnerEmma Slater (never has made a final)

Outlook – Have you ever seen this guy warm up for an NFL game? He’s got moves and apparently a hot soundtrack – can I get a copy? In the past football players have either fizzeled in the start or excelled all the way to the finals. I believe Rashad has the potential to rush his way through the competition and get that Mirror Ball Trophy! He’s someone you want on your team – and someone who may not give you the highest points right away but will progress as the season goes along. I’d classify him as one to improve as we progress through the season.

Secret Weapon – He’ll have no problem throwing Emma in the air, over his shoulder, between his legs – the man is BUILT!

@Simply_Shamus says… We’re talking about a competitive, driven and committed athlete. He’ll have no issues with strength or stamina, or name recognition. I actually think the combination of him and Emma will prove positive to the folks at home voting. Dances such as Quickstep or Salsa require sharp, precise movement – look for these to be his strongest dances. I’ve done some research on him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he scores well in the Latin portion of the show – he’s got hips ladies and gents!

Bottom Line – If any guy can outdo this competitive field of ladies, it’s Rashad. Historically, the athleticism and footwork of  football players have translated onto the dance floor on this show, making him a no-brainer in Round One and a serious threat for a top-three finish.

Heather Morris – ‘Glee’ Actress

Professional PartnerMaksim Chmerkosvkiy (one time champion)

Outlook – Heather perhaps is the most controversial celebrity this season. She’s acted on “Glee”, auditioned on SYTYCD (she wasn’t stellar in the ballroom portion) and has danced backup for Queen B. Really? She’s got the experience on stage, in front of the camera, the best male dancer on the show, but can she turn all that into a convincing performance? We shall see. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll do well, but I wouldn’t be stunned if she ends up being the “shocker” early departure in Season 24.

Secret Weapon – She knows the “Single Ladies” dance. That’s enough to win my heart over. Oh, and the “bad boy of the ballroom” is her partner… these two will be FIERCE competitors.

@Simply_Shamus says… There’s no doubt in my mind that these two will go far. She’ll put up good numbers in dances like ChaCha, Contemporary, Jazz, Salsa…. But I’m not sure about the smooth dances. How you hold yourself in Jazz and Contemporary (ones she’s trained in) is quite different than partner dancing. It’s a different beast to be connected with a partner, circling around the floor, maintaining proper posture. It’s not easy. If she can grasp it, yes, she’ll get near the end.

Bottom Line – With her own dance experience and her partner Maks’ popularity, Heather has a recipe for a long, top-five run.  Mastering the smooth, “Jazz and Contemporary” dances will be crucial, however.  

Nancy Kerrigan – Olympic Figure Skater

Professional PartnerArtem Chigvintsev (never has made a final)

Outlook – Previous skaters on DWTS have effortlessly made their way to the finals and been crowned champion. Nancy has was it takes to follow in this footsteps – grace, poise, slightly older but in great shape, fan base – just as long as Tonya Harding isn’t in the audience. Will she get you steady points you need and remain in competition long? I believe so.

Secret Weapon – She’s a skater, so when she gets the chance to fly, perhaps in the Waltz and Quickstep, she’ll easily find her way to the top of the leaderboard.

@Simply_Shamus says… When it comes to posture, she’s got it. When it comes to turns and spotting, she’s got it. When it comes to Smooth dances, she’s got it. When it comes to Latin dances, I’m not so sure. I think this is where she dips in numbers. The keys to this dance — the ability to use her knees (sorry) to create that Cuban motion, dig those feet, let loose a little with Artem —  could be her demise. But don’t count her out, she’ll be around for a while.

Bottom Line – Nancy has the capability of bringing home more than a bronze, but she’s going to have to work for it. Draft her at the end of the 1st or beginning of the 2nd round.

Normani Kordei – Singer with Fifth Harmony

Professional PartnerVal Chmerkovskiy (2-time champion)

Outlook – Normani has all the ingredients it takes to make it to the finals and take home the Mirror Ball Trophy. Not only does she have some fire dancing under her belt, but she’s partnered with the hottest professional right now on the show – Val! Working as a team and developing routines with a crazy schedule like hers could cost her a few technical points; still, she’s one you DEFINITELY want on your team. Don’t hesitate when it comes to Normani and Val.

Secret Weapon – “Work” and “Worth It” – need I say more? She’s got the best soundtrack ready to go.

@Simply_Shamus says… Normani is a celebrity I’ve gone back and forth about. She’s a dancer, but may not excel at the more prim and proper Smooth dances. Her strongest asset is her partner Val, who is truly one of the best. His choreography is fresh, appropriate and he knows how to teach. I REALLY want them to do well. Moments ago I saw a video from their practicing and WOW – this girl could actually take it home. She’s got a hot swivel, fairly sharp jig kicks and quite the body. She’s a must for your fantasy team.

Bottom Line – Normani is ready to go to “Work” for that Mirror Ball. I predict a top 5 finish for her.

Tier Two – Midrounders with Upside

Bonner Bolton – Bull Rider and Model

Professional PartnerSharna Burgess (has made it to 3 finals)

Outlook – Who is Bonner Bolton? Unless you’re an avid cowboy or follow every male model on IG, you’re probably struggling to answer this.  Working heavily in his favor is his backstory: Last year Bonner broke his neck and was temporarily paralyzed. He set out on a determined path for recovery and now finds himself entering the ballroom as this years “celebrity with a struggle.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving him already, and think he could also be this year’s “most improved” throughout the season. Will he come out immediately on top? No. Could he end up being eliminated in Week 1? Doubtful.

Secret Weapon – Sharna. She’s come in every possible place in this competition, danced with a wide variety of celebrities and I believe is a professional that will grow Bonner into a very solid dancer. And he’s a cowboy? What could be cuter.

@Simply_Shamus says…. This guy is one to watch! Every season there’s someone who shocks us all – last year that was Sharna’s partner James Hinchcliffe – and Bonner fits right into that role. He’s got the majority of America on his side (the others are fighting for bull rights), an absolutely stunning parter, physical strength, and perhaps he’s hiding some moves under that hat. I expect him to place near the bottom, perhaps middle of the pack, to start; however, once he opens up and finds his groove, Bonner’s progress will reflect in his scoring. I’ll be curious how his bicep strength plays a part in dances such as Jive, Tango or even Paso Doble, where his manliness could shine through. Bonner is a TRUE wild card.

Bottom Line – With a backstory that’s easy to rally behind and one of the top partners on his side, look for Bonner to last long and increase his scores as the season progresses. This cowboy is solid 2nd round pick with upside.

Nick Viall – The Bachelor

Professional PartnerPeta Murgatroyd (2-time champion)

Outlook – There’s so much to be said about Nick and his outlook on DWTS. America knows him best from his just finished stint on “The Bachelor,” and every woman (and me) will be calling in to vote for him. Meanwhile, Peta is BACK and DWTS addicts couldn’t be happier. I think this couple has the fan base to stay in quite a while. Can Nick dance? Well, if you saw him on stage with the Backstreet Boys, or trying to keep up with the Irish Step Dancers, than you know that he may just have a move or two. I’d put him in line with Bonner — he could start weak, but grow into a great dancer, and, suddenly, he’s making a run all the way to the end.

Secret Weapon – EVERYONE will be waiting for his shirtless ChaCha!

@Simply_Shamus says… Personally, Nick is one of the celebrities I’m most anxious to see — and not just because of the above secret weapon, but because I think he’s a hidden talent. Clips I’ve seen, observing him, his bubbly personality — these all tell me that, if reigned in by Peta, Nick could make it into the finals. He’s in super shape and has rhythm, so I expect him to do well in dances like the Salsa, Cha Cha, and Jive… plus, I believe a really elegant Waltz is on his way. He’s one to really watch. He’s worth picking up in the second round.

Bottom Line – As a “hidden talent” with the perfect partner to develop and maximize his ceiling in Peta, Nick could ride his “Bachelor Nation” card to the finals.  He’s a high-ceiling second rounder. 

Erika Jayne – Singer and Housewife of Beverly Hills

Professional PartnerGleb Savchenko (came in 4th last season)

Outlook – Don’t let her housewife status fool you; Erika is a billboard charting dance/pop artist. I’m not sure popularity is in her corner when it comes to this contest, but her presence will be known. She’ll bring sass and an array of danceable songs with her. Will it translate into a graceful Waltz? I’m not too sure.

Secret Weapon – Watch and weep: 

Gleb, Erika’s partner, made this happen last season and it’s gone down as one of the hottest dances in the shows history! Look for these two to repeat similarly scorching dances.

@Simply_Shamus says… I think the partnership of Erika and Gleb is respectable, yet predictable. They’re going to bring the SEXY into the ballroom and I fear that’s all they may bring. Personally, she doesn’t wow me. I don’t see her doing the rotational Viennese Waltz to par or doing any trick other than a split – and maybe ripping Gleb’s clothes off.

Bottom Line – Erika will strut her stuff, but, with a limited skill set and poor likability against her, it won’t be in a final. Still, her partner will maximize her sex-appeal, and, as a late second or early third round investment, Erika should net a 6th or 7th place finish.

Tier Three – Last Round Fliers

Charo – Actress and Comedienne

Professional Partner – Keo Motsepe (has come in 13th twice)

Outlook – Charo is this season’s Cloris Leachman. She has a vibrant, flamboyant, exhuberently expressed personality that NO DOUBT will carry her along in the competition. This woman is no stranger to performing, or even to this show after appearing long ago to assist Pamela Anderson on sex appeal during the Paso Doble. Charo will be a blast for as long as she lasts, and will be the one everyone sees sad to go home.

Secret Weapon – NO one has a bigger personality than her, one that will draw the audience in I’m sure with every performance.

@Simply_Shamus says… Although I have Charo near the bottom of my list, she’s not THE bottom. I believe she’ll put up “enough” points in Latin – where she has experience – to stay alive for a few weeks. Is she the one that’s going to get you consistently high points? NO. I fear her connection with Keo, as well as any attempt she may make at the Quickstep and Viennese Waltz. But I love this woman and what she brings to the table is exactly what dancing is all about – GOOD ATTITUDE!

Bottom Line – Cute as a button, but not skilled enough to get max points; Charo’s personality will carry her for a few weeks, but not much farther, making her a non-priority in your draft.


David Ross – Baseball Player

Professional Partner – Lindsay Arnold (powerhouse when it comes to finishing in the top 4)

Outlook – As the first MLB player ever to be on the show, he’s sure to have a big following – especially given he recently won a trophy of his own. Can he dance? I’m not quite sure. But he’s another athlete with a competitive mindset and, based off his interviews, he’s REALLY excited about dancing. Baseball players have no track record on the show, but perhaps he’s about to show them who’s the boss!

Secret Weapon – Athletes usually fare well due to their competitiveness and willingness to take feedback, yet a few have fallen flat on their face, making Ross a complete wild card. But perhaps that’s good, dance under the radar!

@Simply_Shamus says… When you look at his interviews and see his chemistry with Lindsay, you can’t help but love them both. He’ll be able to keep up with the physical demands, but for how long? Something tells me he doesn’t have the smoothest Foxtrot, or sharpness required in Jive, or even the motion to go along with Rumba. America will keep him in for a moment, but I wouldn’t expect to see him in the final.

Bottom Line – David could surprise everyone, but don’t expect immediate strong dancing. He’ll take a few weeks to develop… if he makes it that long.

Mr. T –  Actor

Professional Partner – Kym Johnson (2-time champion)

Outlook – Is Mr. T going to be in the finals? NO. But he is the kind of person that fans love to rally behind, especially since he’s doing this for a children’s organization.  A seasoned veteran of DWTS in Kym Johnson also is in Mr. T’s favor, but he still doesn’t project for a long run at the Mirror Ball. 

Secret Weapon – Kym is an amazing dancer, absolutely beautiful. He’s a pretty strong man with character. Stranger things have happened. (Look at who’s president!)

@Simply_Shamus says … I just don’t see him keeping up with some of these more youthful men and women. Sure he can lift Kym, but that’s not technically dancing. I don’t believe he’ll deliver top notch dancing and, therefore, eventually his low scores will get him the boot.

Bottom Line – “I pity the fool” who takes him in either the first or second round. He’s not going to get anywhere near the points needed for a final.

Chris Kattan – Comedian

Professional Partner – Witney Carson

Outlook – I’m not sure what Kattan has going for him, besides his humor and charisma. He doesn’t have a sad story. His fan base is there, but are they watching DWTS? The other contestants and judges will love having him around for his brief run, but I highly doubt he’ll be seeing anything great scoring-wise.

Secret Weapon – “A Night At The Roxbury” dance moves!

@Simply_Shamus says… Absolutely love him as a comedian, but as a dancer? I’ll stick to watching SNL, and don’t anticipate seeing the Latin in Chris come out anytime soon. Sure, he’ll be highly entertaining in his routines, but humor doesn’t earn points from the judges, it’s hard to imagine anything technically sound from Chris. 

Bottom Line – Although a legendary comedian, his time in the ballroom won’t be long. He’s destined for a last-round pick.

This wraps up Shamus’  Cast Previews and Predictions; now that you’re fully prepared, set up your own league and get drafting ahead of Monday’s big premiere! And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for Shamus’ episode recaps, where he’ll breakdown and review all the dances and relevant fantasy action. 

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