Faried, a 6'8 (2.03 m) post player, came to Morehead State in 2007 and became one of the best players in school and conference history. Faried 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. Faried led the way, scoring 15 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in the final against Austin Peay, and was named tournament Most Valuable Player. 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 season, pulling out on May 7, 2010.
On June 23, 2011, Faried was selected 22nd overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. In the beginning of his time with the Nuggets, he acclimated to being an NBA player, but got little playing time behind Nenê. After multiple Nuggets players got injured including Nenê, he started to pick up playing time later in the season. Faried's style of playing impressed team managers and coaches of the Nuggets organization. On March 15, 2012, Nenê was traded to the Washington Wizards. Since then, Faried has been the Nuggets' starting power forward. In his first game after the trade of Nenê, Faried had 18 points and a career high 16 rebounds. However, he surpassed both those marks when he had career highs in points and rebounds, with 27 and 17, respectively, on April 9, 2012. 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 won the Player of the Week award due to his aggressive playing style and offensive rebounds. On November 15, 2012, Faried set a new career high with 20 rebounds in a game 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.