Dancing With the Stars Season 18: Who's Likeliest to Win? Check Out Our Odds!

Point those toes and get your jazz hands limbered up.

Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars is set to kick off next Monday (8/7c on ABC) — and while it’s unclear which contestants have knowledge of an eight-count or are in possession of an eight-pack (dare to dream!), it’s never too early to start handicapping the race.

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Below, check out our gallery of the celebs and pro partners who’ll be trying to paso and rumba their way into your hearts over the next few months — along with their competitive chances and estimated odds of winning — in order from least- to most-likely champ. (Note: Amy Purdy and Derek Hough’s official Season 18 portrait is not yet available — so we had to improvise.)

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(And yes, while at one point during the DWTS season, the stars will swap partners — and it’ll be up to America to decide who ends up together — we figure these initial pairings will last long enough to establish some fairly strong voting patterns.)

When you’re done reading our analysis, hit the comments with your own thoughts on who’s likely to win, who’ll make the finals, and who’s going to be the first celeb booted. And for all my reality TV news, interviews and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jetting Benny says:

    What is this switch voting they’re talking about. If they do that than Derek will (snooze) once again win. People seem to vote for him, not for the dancer. Mark Ballas has finished worst than fourth because he’s gotten unpopular partners who can’t dance (Bristol Palin, Shannen Doherty) and because he’s gotten a bum deal. Had he gotten the popular people and those who have dancing ability, like Derek, he too might have come in. I’m sorry that Tristan is not with the show. But perhaps he was tired of getting older women knowing he didn’t stand a chance.

    So who knows who will win. Depends on whether people vote sentimentally…like for the snowboarder or whether they vote to switch. Either way, my money is on Derek. And if not first…3rd place at the lowest.

    • TheFactsR says:

      THEY HAVE Candice toooooo low! She has many many fans!!!!

    • TheFactsR says:

      They also have Sean WAAAAAY tooooooo high

    • TheFactsR says:

      BUT if it isn’t the ice dancers in the final then I smell a BIG rat at DWTS by TPTB

      also Dancia and Candace or James in the finale 4

      Another words these should be the top 5.

      I prefer Meryl,Charlie,Dancia,Candace as final 4(in this order too) with James in 5th

      • WOW says:

        James Maslow isn’t going to last that long. He will split the younger vote with Cody, which is more popular. Peta has been consistently paired with “hunks” but they always end up fizzling out pretty early. Her time with James will probably be similar to her time with Brant last season. I doubt he cracks the top 5.

        • TheFactsR says:

          and that is OK by me, I don’t care for Peta anyway but I thought the young girls would think him cuuuuuteeeeeee

          • WOW says:

            They will but I bet they vote harder for Cody and Witney. Plus, you aren’t going to see many tweens or teens watching and voting on this show. LOL.

          • Shenatic says:

            An I’m sure Peta doesn’t care for you either. She’s an amazing dancer and they will make it far. Have several seats please.

        • A.Rae says:

          Cody is more popular than James? Not in my house… A lot of grown women are going to be swooning for James… Mark my words!

      • Lena says:

        Danica could go really far, especially since she did take some ballroom lessons. I don’t care if it was one or two. The video is on youtube. She is keeping quiet about that…

    • TheFactsR says:

      I think Candace could be another B. Palin but better likability by DWTS fans

    • Name That Tune says:

      They have put together some interesting pairs. They generally pair Max with the tallest lady and Tony with the lady who needs a gentle coach. But Max will be dancing with tiny little Meryl. He is nearly a foot taller than she is. Just as an outside guess, I bet she gets switched to one of the shorter guys. Derek is about the same height as Charlie, but she would mesh well with Mark.
      Tony is 6’1″ and he won’t look quite so out of balance with Nene Leakes, who is 5’10” – and will be his height or taller with heels. But I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see her end up with Max or Val at some point.

  2. WOW says:

    This season is extremely predictable…
    First, the switch-up is only for ONE week. America will vote and the partnerships will switch for a one-night event. Then everyone goes back to their original partners.
    Beyond that, it is so crazy obvious that the final 2 standing will be the gold medalists. Come on. They DANCE on ice. Probably the biggest ringers in DWTS history. Their entire career is perfecting choreography (and some of it, ballroom type choreography) on ice skates. They will be flawless throughout the season. Maks could potentially win his first trophy if Meryl is better and more personable than Charlie. Plus, Maks has a much bigger fanbase than Sharna.
    ABC is probably already banking on the storyline of “Olympic gold medalists separated by dance show end up in finale competing against one another.” Whoever is in that 3rd slot in the finale stands no chance. And neither does the rest of the cast. It is simply a case of what order they are eliminated in.

    • Name That Tune says:

      Yea, it’s going to be one of the ice dancers. But I love Max and would love to see him hoist that trophy. And break Derreck’s domination of the Mirror Ball trophy.

    • Jessica says:

      The only danger there is splitting the vote. Charlie and Meryl share an existing fanbase; their entire careers has been built on presenting themselves as a unit. Most fans won’t want to vote for one over the other, so they’ll try to share their votes. Though I admit I’d love to see them in the finale- maybe they’d even let them do a little number together if that happened!

      • TheFactsR says:

        naw there are sooooo many Olympians from other sports it won’t hurt them at all

      • Olympics vs DWTS demo says:

        ^ This – they will split the vote if they both get into top 3 – that’s why getting into the top 3 is important for one of the other contestants – someone like Cameron or McKellar. If one or the other can get into the finals with the two Olympians, that could well give either Cameron or Mckellar the inside track.

        Also, are the demographics the same for viewers who watched the Olympics and DWTS? I think the Olympics skews a bit younger – some of those in that audience may not be DWTS fans. I bet many of the DWTS fans won’t even know who the two Olympians are. The core fan base for DWTS is the 25-54 women demo. That demo is smack in the middle of the age group who grew up with Full House and Wonder Years. Cameron and McKellar may be more formidable than viewers realize at this point.

        • TheFactsR says:

          the OLD ladies mostly watch DWTS get a grip! Enjoy the beautiful dancing and stop with the Olympian stories!

          DWTS are growing tired of the biased slant that HAS BEEN DWTS too long!

    • TheFactsR says:

      yes agree, the way you are thinking is on target to what I am thinking, I have the lower 4 picked and I bet cha I am not far off the order of elimination by much.

      I do think Cody, Sean, Billy D, Diana, Drew, will have a tough time being graceful, as could Nene and Amy. Ne Ne could be good at Latin and not so at ballroom. Amy ok at Ballroom and struggle at Latin and QS.

    • Sarah says:

      I said the same about the idea of them being on the show, especially since Derek Hough helped choreograph their gold medal routine, and both study ballet. HOWEVER, I remember Evan Lysacek saying it’s actually tricky for skaters because they use the muscles differently and they shift their weight completely opposite. Interesting to see!

    • Corrie Byrne says:


    • Linda says:

      Amy, Charie and Meryl will be the final three. Any will be third, Charlie second and Meryl will win.

  3. Matt M. says:

    Although it may not be [fair], I hope Maks wins with Meryl. He’s so long-deserving of that Mirror Ball.

    However, Derek will probably win again with the [gulp], sympathy vote for Purdy.

  4. Mick says:

    Candace Cameron has way more name recognition than Danica McKellar. First off Full House plays more than the Wonder Years does on television currently. Second Candace was a series regular on Make it or Break It for 3 or 4 seasons within the last five years.

    • Mick says:

      Then there is the Kirk Cameron scandals of the last few years, which may help with the Bible belt votes.

      • WOW says:

        I hope she doesn’t subscribe to her brother’s ridiculous beliefs regarding gay people. I never heard her once speak about the issue when her brother was going through the scandal so I don’t know where she stands.

        • Jen says:

          Go Candace & Mark!!

          • WOW says:

            Just did some googling and yes, she definitely believes in the same things as her nutty brother. He just happens to speak out about it more because that’s all he does while she still acts. So definitely not giving any of my support to her. Makes sense now why she is paired with Mark Ballas. One homophobe deserves the other.

  5. Ashbash says:

    Yeah I don’t agree with this list. One as was already stated Candace Cameron Bure is definitely more well known than Danica McKellar. Full House still airs and was in syndication during the years the 18-25 crowd was growing up and seriously who didn’t love DJ. And in addition to being on a popular ABC Family show she also is a staple on the Hallmark Channel. Honestly I don’t remember seeing Danica McKellar on anything the last fews except SyFy channel m

    • Sheila says:

      She’s popular in the nerd set due to Nerdist appearances and her attempt to show you can do math while dressing slutty.

      • N tTVf says:

        Easy does it there ;). Look, Danica is living her life, give her a break. She has a degree in math and has written some math books geared towards trying to help encourage young girls to pursue math and not be turned off by math studies. That’s a good thing – I wouldn’t call her young fans ‘nerds’ – the parents of these young kids grew up watching Wonder Years, they’ve got kids now, and learning about math is a good thing, at any age.

        I want to ensure we set the record straight regarding the couple of magazine shoots from ‘Stuff’ magazine (from a few years ago), and then more recently, from ‘Maxim’ magazine that Danica has done; those photos shoots were really tame, not Playboy or Penthouse grade. A great many actresses on television pose in these types of ‘GQ’ level magazines – it’s almost part of the job of looking for your next job as an actress. Actresses on Big Bang Theory, Lost, HIMYM, Desperate Housewives, Po5, Modern Family, Without a Trace, Cold Case, New Girl, 7th Heaven, Charmed – the list goes on and on. It’s almost as if the actresses don’t have a photo shoot with Maxim or GQ, people ask: “Hey, what’s the matter, get with it before you get too old to do it.” Guys/nerds like me buy those magazines – believe me, there are harmless – one step above a comic book for men to keep them up to date on the latest ‘gadgets’ and pretty girls on TV.

        So, we need to give Danica a bit of slack here – she’s an actress, a mathematics major trying to instill some ‘love’ for math in young people/girls, enjoys yoga and raising her son, and now working on DWTS to get back into primetime TV. Give her chance to show what she can do and tell a bit of her back story on the show. If you still don’t like her after this season of DWTS, fine, I respect that. But give her a chance to win you over – I bet she will.

  6. Ashbash says:

    But I think Candace and Danica will both wind up in the top 5 if either have any dance ability

  7. Tran 2.0 says:

    It would be nice if DJ Tanner from Full House and Winnie from The Wonder Years are going to be in the Final Three of Four of DWTS. Drew Carey doesn’t stand a chance but if he gets eliminated depending on which week it is, guess he’ll go back hosting The Price is Right. Wonder if Cheryl Burke is going to be a “guest model” on Price is Right someday.

    • WOW says:

      Never underestimate the older comedic types on this show. I wouldn’t be surprised if Drew and Billy Dee end up outlasting quite a few other people. The audience of this show is different from most other shows of the same kind. A name like Drew Carey or Billy Dee Williams has a lot more power (regardless of dancing) than a James Maslow or a Sean Avery.

      • TheFactsR says:

        They do have Sean too high he won’t last that long. He will lack dance ability and grace and votes.

        • Lena says:

          I do not know anything about him, but he doesn’t seem very warm. That was just my impression when he was introduced on GMA. I will most likely not vote for him.

  8. Mary says:

    At first I wasn’t really feeling this cast but I’m starting to get a little interested. I’m liking the odds on Danika – I love her definitely over Candace (bleh). Though I don’t know how fair it is to have Billy Dee – how would he be able to keep up? Man, I hardly recognized Drew Carey! He’s practically the half the man he used to be.

  9. TheFactsR says:

    I think most if not all will choose to return to the original partner where they are most comfortable

  10. Yolanda says:

    Candace seems like such a sweet gal but as a long supporter of gay rights I just can’t root for someone who believes homosexuality is a sin. Sorry but I just can’t. I’m gonna root for Danica cause I’m nostalgia girl and Danica seems like another sweet gal.

    • Angela says:

      Yeah, I’m leaning towards rooting for Danica, too. It’ll be very interesting to see her and Candace facing off, and which one will inspire more nostalgic fan response.
      Also, I know a lot of people have very strong opinions on Derek (myself, I don’t mind the guy, but it would be nice to see someone who hasn’t won in a while get a chance), but I do have to say that I AM curious how he and his partner will do together. Heather Mills gave it a try a few years ago-she may not have gotten very far, but she did try. So I do wish Amy luck.
      And finally, wow, Drew Carey looks so different.

      • TheFactsR says:

        that was before DEREK was stuffed down our throats! Did Derek no favors because now he is losing folks over it.

        • Angela says:

          You know, you CAN change the channel if the guy bothers you that much. Or go do something else while he’s on the screen.

    • TheFactsR says:

      A person as the right to be against gayism as a person who is for gayism! America is “freedom of choice” therefore being against something is their right!

      • Angela says:

        Also, reading comprehension is your friend. Nowhere in Yolanda’s post did they say that someone DIDN’T have the right to be against homosexuality. People do have the right to oppose it if they wish, and those of us who disagree have the right to say so and refuse to support them in their activities. Relax already.

  11. N tTVf says:

    Danica has a good chance to at least go into top-5…as long as she keeps from getting hurt during the competition, my money is on her. She has a good dance partner as well. She’s done some acting and has been in public eye in recent years, a math wiz, she has books on math (pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trig) over the past new years, has done some dancing, lots of yoga (has DVD), in very good shape. If you go on Amazon, you’ll find her math books, DVDs, etc. She’s been a busy working mom.

    If she can just get into the top-3, she’ll win. She just has hang on and get into the finals, then I think the nostalgia factor will kick in, and it’s over – mirror-ball for Danica! I remember Donny Osmond winning years ago (the last time I watched DWTS). He just held on, got into the top-3, turned it up a notch, and goodbye, and it was over. Danica has a chance to do similar strategy.

    Good luck Danica!

  12. Joshua says:

    It may be a given that the Final Three will be the two ice dancers plus a sympathy case (like Bill Engvall was last season). Drew Carey seems like he’d be the kind of guy to fill that slot this season.
    Also, and maybe I’m just not watching the right shows, but I feel like Candice might trump Danica in terms of nostalgia.

  13. Shel says:

    Derek is an awesome dancer and an Emmy-winning choreographer. However, any review of odds should take into account the caliber of his partners, especially compared to someone like Tony Dovolani. Put a list of Derek’s partners next to a list of Tony’s and tell me I’m wrong. lol

    Not sure who will/should win this year. Would love for Maks to win, for sentimental reasons – one of the faves of the show who has never won yet, though he has gotten close.

    Hate all the Pro newbies they keep throwing in, though I think Witney (from SYTYCD) will do a better job than her friend and co-competitor Lindsay did two seasons ago. I really miss familiar faces: Tristan, Dmitry, Kim, Anna, Lacey,

    If DWTS really wants to figure out why their ratings have gone down, they may want to consider keeping their pro “cast” permanently. They may want to reverse all the other desperate changes they are making. Do they seriously believe they can pull in young males to watch this show with a co-host? lol

    Hate the switch idea – stupid gimmick. Just because some people may be tired of the show, or some people *think* people are tired of the show, change for change’s sake is never good. And it is still the same for each celebrity: a scary, new challenge where they have to put their trust into a total stranger’s hands and learn to do something completely foreign to them in front of the world.. So, sure, that’s not hard enough – let’s make them switch partners too,

    • TheFactsR says:

      you forgot Chelsie Hightower, I doubt if Chelsie will ever return as a pro for DWTS! I too miss Dmitry. I believe the both of them got their fill of the judges as did Maks for awhile. Anna or Lacey I could care less! Anna turned sl___tville after her split with husband or pssst before her split with husband. Tristan’s new wife is from Auzzie land so maybe he will join Damian on that show with Kym too.

  14. Rocky says:

    The only way Meryl doesn’t win this is if she starts to show her real personality in front of the cameras. Not a nice gal.

    • TheFactsR says:

      I haven’t seen anything mean from Meryl!

      After the switch, I think most if not all will return to the original partner. It is the pro in the switch that can make them FAIL! and on purpose!

      Say for a moment Cheryall gets Charlie but knows she will not stay with her and wants Sharna again, Cheryall also knows Drew will not make it to win. She could cause a failed dance to get Charlie on the hot seat. It could happen.

  15. Kathy says:

    Meryl,Charlie,James, and Amy will be the top 4 not necessarily in that order. We all know that fan voting is more important than judges scores Don’t count Derek out he knows how to win regardless of his partner.He has a huge fan base and right or wrong people vote for Derek regardless of who his partner is just because he is so talented.

  16. Liz Sattler says:

    It’s either Danica&Val or James&Peta but the ones I have to guess who’ll win this years mirror ball trophy is Meryl&Maks because Meryl’s an amazing skate
    Dancer just like her partner Charlie White who
    Also is on the show with Sharna so go Meryl.

  17. Mona Horwitz says:

    Love the show even if it is rigged! It isn’t about who is best dancer but who has the most “friends” voting

  18. Patrice Gomez says:

    I am a huge fan of the dancing with the stars and want to see tyrese Gibson and shemar moore or a actor like vin diesel or actress keke palmer or a rapper ice cube . Or an athlete like kobe Bryant .

  19. I have down syndrome and cancer and I’m 22 years old I love James so much that I want to meet with him

  20. Elizabeth L'Huillier says:

    I do not think it is fair for non dancing stars to compete against stars who have “dancing” in their background. I enjoy watching the non-dancers improve each week. We all know that the winner will be a star who has a dancing background.