It’s my favorite time of year again! When I get to revisit my six, eight-tab spreadsheets and statistically narrow down who DWTS will cast this time time around. With Season 18 set to premiere on St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll probably get a cast announcement in the next two weeks. Here’s what your inner stat nerd needs to know in advance.

The categories of Star most likely to appear in Season 18:

NFL Player, Reality Star, Comedian/Goofball, Random Elite Athlete, Quirky C-Lister, Nostalgic TV Icon, Olympian, and Disney Star

DWTS by season

Click the chart to see the stats up close — enough said.  This post will examine the statistical possibilities of who might be cast  in each of these eight likely categories.

NFL Player

[pullquote]NFL master[/pullquote]The past three post-Super Bowl DWTS stars (Hines Ward, Donald Driver, and Jacoby Jones) were all wide receivers on the winning team who scored touchdowns during the big game. If we drill down, you’re looking at Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Percy Harvin. It’s a shame that Russell Wilson has other plans for spring because I bet that guy can DANCE. No matter. Wide receivers do WELL on DWTS, (indeed Ward and Driver won the whole thing, Jones came in third) except for Keyshawn Johnson. Oh boy. Keyshawn Johnson.

But let’s look to another compelling predictive criteria for NFL players. Overwhelmingly, NFL cast members have hailed from the deep south (see the chart below). That eliminates Kearse (who is from Lakewood, Wash.) and leaves Harvin (Chesapeake, Va.) and Baldwin (Gulf Breeze, Fla., near Pensacola).

NFL map

NFL PLAYER PREDICTIONS: Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin
CYA Predictions: Tony Gonzalez, Victor Cruz, Eric Decker, Richard Sherman . . . and the retired contingent: Ahmad Rashad, Cris Carter, Tiki and / or Ronde Barber (I bet they’re salivating over the twin thing at ABC)

Reality Star

[pullquote]Reality master[/pullquote]

One very discernible pattern among the source of DWTS’ past Reality Stars and that is a hearty injection of Bachelors and Bachelorettes. After the Bachelor franchise, there’s a Noah’s Ark of Osbournes, Kardashians, Girls Next Door, Hills alums, and Guido’s.

Three more patterns:

  • Gender. less than 20 percent (five of 18 total) of Reality Stars on DWTS were men. The vast majority have been women.
  • Youth. The average age of these contestants is 30. Take out the outlier Lisa Vanderpump and the average age is 27-28-ish. These contestants skew young and extremely attractive, seemingly sending a signal that sex appeal is a more important criteria for Reality Stars than entertainment value (or dancing talent, heyooooo).
  • Multiplicity. This is a category where they often double up. There have been multiple Reality Stars cast on seven of the last 10 seasons.
Reality Star Predictions

Honestly? If it’s not someone from the Bachelor franchise (and Juan Pablo Galvais is a great dancer), I’m at a loss. I try to limit myself to only a small amount of reality TV. Indeed, mostly just DWTS . . . and so this category is imploding on itself. My friend Jami tells me that apparently Sharon Osbourne is campaigning for a turn about the ballroom. The rumor mill has also been working the Bruce Jenner angle REAL hard. As I told Jami, all Osbournes and all Jendashians are all-ways campaigning to dance.[ref]Although the elder OsJendashians would buck the youth movement in reality.[/ref] They’re not stupid. It pays well, it’s impossible to look bad on there, and plus you lose tons of weight.

CYA Predictions: someone from “Duck Dynasty,” that oldest Wahlberg, Nene Leakes, June Shannon,[ref]Honey Boo Boo’s mother.[/ref] Dr. Drew, Karl Pilkington, any American Ninja Warrior . . . Wait a minute! None of these people fit the predictive criteria (young and sexy). I confess, other than the “Duck Dynasty” dudes, this is just my wishlist.


DWTS Age Map

Comedian / Goofballs

[pullquote]goofballs[/pullquote] Two things about goofballs. First, THEY BE OLD. The average age of a Goofball on DWTS is 45, (a full 15 years older than the average Reality Star) Enough said.

Second, they be BAD. Bill Engvall’s Miracle Run to the Finals(tm) last season was a groundbreaking, pioneering effort among goofballs. Before him, only two goofballs (of 13, Niecy Nash and Andy Dick) had ever made it into the second half of their season. You know who could win it all? I won’t make you wait.

Comedian Goofball Predictions: WAYNE BRADY
CYA Predictions: George Lopez, Jeff Dunham, Michael Ian Black, Roseanne, Emo Philips, Larry the Cable Guy, Norm McDonald, Dana Carvey, Andrew Dice Clay, Kathy Griffin, Jeff Foxworthy, any Wayans.

Nostalgic Icon (TV)

[pullquote]TV icon table[/pullquote]Seems like DWTS loves to cast actors who made their bones on the portrayal of a single character on network TV. Or perhaps there’s a chicken and egg thing going on here too? Actors who have been pigeonholed by their portrayal of a single TV character are more likely to take the DWTS gig because they’re so eager for the public to see another side of them? Hmmm. In any case, it’s an incredibly fun exercise to remember our favorite TV characters and imagine them on the dance floor.

The other clear pattern with Nostalgic TV icons is their age. The only people on the dance floor who are older than the Comedian / Goofballs are the Nostalgic TV Icons. Their average age is 48. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is the spring chicken of the pack, having appeared on the show at the tender age of 32. Yikes!

Side note: I can’t escape the feeling that I need a third chicken reference here. Um . . . why did the Nostalgic TV Icon cross the road? In a desperate attempt to stay tangentially relevant? That works! Now I can move on.

CYA Predictions: Balki, MacGyver, Uncle Jesse & Uncle Joey, Alan Thicke . . . Isn’t Bruce Campbell available these days? BRUCE CAMPBELL please.


[pullquote]Olympian master[/pullquote]With regard to Olympians, that story is still being written. As often as possible, DWTS will try to feature someone from the Olympics that immediately precede the season. I assume they’ll attempt to capitalize on the Sochi Games as well.

The predictive criteria is:  American, won gold (not silver, not bronze . . . GOLD). So far, that limits us to slopestylers Sage Kotsenburg (super hot) and Jamie Anderson (OK, fine, so is she). The statistical monkey wrench here is that every Winter Olympian who has ever appeared on DWTS before has worn skates on their feet.[ref]Kristi Yamaguchi, Evan Lysacek, Dorothy Hamill, and Apolo Ohno — snowboarder Louie Vito appeared BEFORE he competed in the Olympics.[/ref] So can we expect a skater again?

The Occam’s Razor prediction here is to cast ice dancing royalty Meryl Davis and Charlie White. I know, I know. They are basically ballroom dancers for a living, right? (Most ice dances are either foxtrots or quicksteps.) Derek Hough actually helped choreograph their Olympic routine. THERE WOULD BE RINGER MADNESS.

I still might be able to get behind this. These two have skated with one another for 17 years. SEVENTEEN YEARS YOU GUYS. What an interesting storyline would it be to find them suddenly competing AGAINST each other? WHAT IF THEY’RE THE FINAL TWO? I desperately hope they end up in the final two. I’ll be disappointed if they don’t.

*To be confirmed after we see who else wins gold.

OLYMPIAN PREDICTIONS: Meryl Davis, Charlie White
CYA Predictions: One of those free spirited extreme snow sport crazies, Gabby Douglas, LoLo Jones, Rulon Gardner

Random Elite Athlete / Quirky C-Lister / Disney Star

disneystars clister random athlete

BOLD PREDICTION: we won’t see any of these categories represented in Season 18.
Disney Star

I don’t think they want a Disney Star this year if they can avoid it since they’ve had one the past two seasons. Also, I think they wouldn’t go there unless it was someone with mainstream appeal–another high profile “High School Musical” cast member for instance. Having said that, this is a category where they see a lot of Twitter participation and draws a younger, Disney Channel/ABC Family demographic to the show . . . so my bold prediction may well be dead wrong.

Quirky C-Lister

This category was much heavier in the early seasons of DWTS and never really generates much excitement. The last two C-Listers who showed up did so in the midst of personal drama (Arquette’s divorce/rehab and Remini’s break with Scientology). I can’t really think of anyone that fits that bill right now – maybe Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan but I so hope for all our sake it’s not one of them. Here are some C-Listers I would LOVE to see though: Tony Danza, Cuba Gooding Jr., Fred Willard, Shelley Long, and Weird Al Yankovic. Quirky C-Lister I would hate to see but I can’t help thinking she’s dying to do it: Jenny McCarthy

Random Elite Athlete

With both an NFL Player and Olympian in the mix, they won’t be tripling up on athletes unless they really have to to fill out the roster.  Having said that, if they were to choose a random athlete, I think I want them to choose Cathy Rigby, who as of last year, is STILL Peter Pan. Good grief.