As the season reaches December, fantasy playoffs are on the cusp of starting up. Luckily for a lot of patient team owners, several star players could return to the field and provide a late-season boost.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
Freeman had his third NFL concussion back in Week 10 against the Cowboys, and though he practiced briefly Thursday before sitting out this most recent week, he has yet to pass through the concussion protocal. In his absence, Tevin Coleman hasn't missed a beat and could continue to get significant reps even if Freeman returns soon. Though Freeman is worth hanging onto in a roster spot, he might not return to form quickly enough to make an impact this fantasy season.
Aaron Roders, QB, Packers
Rodgers had his throwing shoulder surgically repaired six weeks ago — and was seen throwing 50-yard bombs before the Packers Sunday night loss to the Steelers. He is on the IR but could return as soon as Week 15. If somehow the Packers can stay afloat for a Wild Card Spot, he may make a return in 2017. If you are a sure-playoff team in your fantasy league, he might provide a lift but it's not worth stashing him yet.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams
Woods had started to emerge as an elite NFL wide receiver before leaving Week 11 with a shoulder injury. Sean McVay called it an injury that will sideline him for "a couple weeks," meaning Week 13 is not a real possibility. Look for him to get closer to returning in Weeks 14 and 15 against the Eagles and Seahawks.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
Shepard missed back to back games due to illness, migranes specifically, and could benefit from the longer week. The Giants and Redskins did battle on Thanksgiving day giving the team 10 days before its Week 13 match up. Shepard could return to the field then.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
Winston is nearing his return as an MRI had good results Monday and he has been cleared to throw Tuesday. If soreness subsides, he could see the field Sunday against the Packers. However, with Ryan Fitzpatrick at 2-1 in Winston's absence, it will be a tough call for Dirk Koetter. Pay close attention to see who starts later this week.