A 6'8 (2.03 m) post player, Faried arrived at Morehead State in 2007. He led the Ohio Valley Conference in rebounding as both a sophomore and a junior (13.0 rebounds per game in each season) – ranking him third in the NCAA in 2008–09 and second in 2009–10. Faried also chipped in double-digit scoring in each of his three varsity seasons.
Faried also led the Eagles to team success, as Morehead claimed a berth in the 2009 NCAA tournament by winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. He led the way in the conference championship, his 15 points and 17 rebounds in its final against Austin Peay earning him the tournament's MVP. In his junior year Faried again led the Eagles to the post-season, as they advanced to the second round of the College Basketball Invitational. At the end of the season, Faried was named OVC Player and Defensive Player of the Year and an AP honorable mention All-American. He also passed 1000 rebounds for his career.
After his junior season, Faried declared himself eligible for the 2010 NBA Draft. However, he elected to return for his senior, and went on to break Tim Duncan's modern-era (post-1973) Division I career rebounding record of 1,570 rebounds. The mark, which had stood since 1997, fell to Faried's 12 rebounds in the Eagles' 71–65 victory over Indiana State on February 19, 2011. Morehead State again won the Ohio Valley conference tournament, earning a 13 seed in the 2011 NCAA tournament. Led by the play of Faried, Morehead State pulled off a huge upset in the first round of the tournament, toppling the 4 seed Louisville Cardinals. Faried ended his collegiate career with 1,673 rebounds.
On June 23, 2011, Faried was selected 22nd overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, but got little game time his rookie season playing behind Nenê. After multiple Nuggets got injured, including Nenê, his minutes increased later in the season. Faried's style of playing impressed the Nuggets coaching staff, and on March 15, 2012, Nenê was traded to the Washington Wizards. Faried has been the Nuggets' starting power forward ever since.
In his first game after the trade of Nenê, Faried had 18 points and a career high 16 rebounds. He surpassed both those marks on April 9, 2012 when he posted 27 and 17, both career highs. His physical style of play earned him the nickname "Manimal". He finished 3rd in NBA Rookie of the Year voting for the 2011–12 NBA season.
In the second week of the 2012–13 NBA season, Faried's aggressive play style and clutch of offensive rebounds earned him the Player of the Week award. On November 15, 2012, he set a new career high with 20 rebounds against the Miami Heat.
Faried was the MVP of the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, where he recorded a double-double with 40 points on 18-for-22 shooting and 10 rebounds.
On April 2, 2014, Faried scored a career high 34 points in a 137-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.