Interestingly, the professional partners aren’t going to be as much of a factor as usual — the pros will all switch their celebs partway through the season. Thus, all rankings are based solely on the stars.
Heartwarming hero types
Diana Nyad — She swam from Cuba to Florida. Nyad is ridiculously charming and cheerful. If her dancing skills match, beating her would just be sad.
Amy Purdy — Let’s just say this: If a double amputee can keep up on the dance floor, there is literally no way she can’t win.
Possibly canceling-each-other-out ringers
Charlie White and Meryl Davis — They won a gold medal in ice dancing, a sport that is essentially ballroom dancing on ice — aka, harder ballroom dancing. Obviously, these two have a major edge on the dancing side, but will each cancel the other out?
Danica McKellar — Dude, she’s Winnie Cooper. Also, people are endlessly impressed that a pretty actress knows how to do math. McKellar is cheerful, well-known and apparently ready to dance.
Candace Cameron Bure — It’s the battle of the late-’80s, early-’90s sitcom teens! Cameron Bure seems to have been in a dedicated career revival of late, so you know DJ Tanner is totally going to fight for this.
Billy Dee Williams — Lando Calrissian. Enough said.
Cody Simpson — You may not have heard of him, but 6.41 million tweens and teens on Twitter sure have. If his fan base mobilizes, everyone else should be terrified.
NeNe Leakes — With 1.47 million Twitter followers — plus name recognition from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “The New Normal” and “Glee” — watch out for Leakes. Her one danger would be that she might be a polarizing figure for some.
Pretty men with limited audience recognition
James Maslow — Nickelodeon kid alert! One of the “Big Time Rush” stars — which is also a boy band in addition to being a TV show — Maslow is huge in the under-15 crowd. The question is whether or not he’ll have the charisma to woo the kids away from Cody Simpson or the adults away from people they’ve actually heard of.
Sean Avery — Hockey players, however famous, have limited name recognition when it comes to a show like “Dancing with the Stars.” Avery seemed a bit shy during the cast reveal too, which could make this a tough battle (especially if he can’t dance well).
Can Drew Carey be classified? Probably not, but the man sure has popularity and recognition on his side. From “The Drew Carey Show” to “The Price Is Right,” literally everyone knows and likes this guy. If he can dance, the rest of the competitors will need to watch out.
But enough about everyone’s talents and flaws as celebrity contenders. Here are some rankings — based on nothing but the impressions mentioned above — for “DWTS” Season 18.
12. Sean Avery
11. Diana Nyad
10. Drew Carey
9. Billy Dee Williams
8. James Maslow
7. NeNe Leakes
6. Cody Simpson
5. Candace Cameron Bure
4. Meryl Davis
3. Danica McKellar
2. Charlie White
1. Amy Purdy
“Dancing with the Stars” Season 18 premieres Monday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.