The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will name the winner in Kuala Lumpur on November 29.
The 34-year-old Karimi, who has played for German clubs Bayern Munich and Schalke 04, has been in a rich vein of form in his third spell with Tehran-based Persepolis.
South Korean Lee played an instrumental role in helping Ulsan Hyundai capture their first Asian Champions League title earlier this month to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup.
Former Charlton Athletic and Celtic defender Zheng has impressed again this season, helping Guangzhou Evergrande retain their Chinese Super League title.
Australian defender Lucas Neill and Iranian centre back Mohsen Bengar were named last week in the final five players up for the award but failed to make the shortlist of three.