I did just the opposite last season which might explain my beloved Wooden Leg award!I like to encourage and cheer everybody on more than I want to play, but for whatever it is worth....I've noticed - in retrospect it is mostly right - that the top ones, and almost always the winner, dance very well the first night. I would have to take into account, of course, who has natural ability (if not, all the instruction in the world doesn't help enough to win), who has that likeability factor ( call it charisma/presence), who has a big enough fanbase, and who the judges either take a shine to immediately or are at least warm to and give decently high scores. I would put all of that into the imaginary pot, try to swish it around, and see what comes up.
Donald had to work to win them, but I think that might be because of all of the previous football winners and high placers. Otherwise, think of most of the winners. So many of them did very, very well the first night. 2nd place usually was a shoo-in for the finals, and sometimes it was not hard to see who the top 3 would be - maybe just the order.
If I were playing to win , I would try to seriously take these factors into account when I came with my picks. (Mind over heart which in truth may not be as much fun!!!)